DOJ settles with Meta in landmark suit over housing discrimination

Jun. 21, 2022 2:09 PM ETMeta Platforms, Inc. (META)By: Jason Aycock, SA News Editor54 Comments

Facebook Covers Sign At Menlo Park Headquarters

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The Justice Departments said Tuesday settled with Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) in a landmark lawsuit over discriminatory advertising for housing.

The suit alleged that Meta (META) violated the Fair Housing Act, and was the first DOJ case to challenge "algorithmic discrimination" - unfair treatment of some users on a systemwide basis. According the DOJ, Meta's (META) housing advertising system discriminated against Facebook users based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin,

In the settlement, Meta (META) has agreed for the first time to change its advertising delivery system. Failing to do so to sufficiently guard against algorithmic discrimination will mean proceeding with litigation, the U.S. attorney said.

"This settlement is historic, marking the first time that Meta has agreed to terminate one of its algorithmic targeting tools and modify its delivery algorithms for housing ads in response to a civil rights lawsuit," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke.

Meta's "Special Ad Audience" tool relies on a discriminatory algorithm to find users who "look like" other users based on FHA-protected characteristics, the DOJ says. The company will develop a new system over the next six months.

Against a broadly higher market that benefitted a number of technology companies, Meta's stock price (META) fell 4%, to close Tuesday at $157.05 a share.

The company's legal issues aren't over. Last week, Meta (META) was sued in a class action case alleging that the company secretly sent medical data to its core Facebook unit.

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