Facebook Sued for Providing Advertising Tools That Violate the Fair Housing Act

cageymaru

Fully [H]
Joined
Apr 10, 2003
Messages
20,979
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has filed a formal complaint against Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act due to the social media giant providing tools to landlords and home sellers that allow them to actively discriminate against protected classes. Facebook tools allow targeted advertising so a landlord or home seller can choose to discriminate by excluding who can see their ad due to factors such as the recipient's race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code. Facebook promotes these features as "success stories" for finding "the perfect homeowners," "reaching home buyers," "attracting renters" and "personalizing property ads."

"The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse," said Anna María Farias, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it's the same as slamming the door in someone's face."
 

cageymaru

Fully [H]
Joined
Apr 10, 2003
Messages
20,979
If you click the tool that I linked in the article, it does everything that the government alleges. I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to implement this tool into Facebook. In the future I expect A.I. to handle this and possibly discriminate based on factors such as DNA. With the ability for A.I. to write its own code for it to run on, I wonder how will we know if the machine that determines your loan status is discriminating against certain classes of people? Our A.I. determined that you can't have healthcare or raised your healthcare premium higher than John's due to "factors." If a prosecutor can't read assembly language who knows if it was intentional or not?
 

Verge

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
May 27, 2001
Messages
7,272
If you click the tool that I linked in the article, it does everything that the government alleges. I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to implement this tool into Facebook. In the future I expect A.I. to handle this and possibly discriminate based on factors such as DNA. With the ability for A.I. to write its own code for it to run on, I wonder how will we know if the machine that determines your loan status is discriminating against certain classes of people? Our A.I. determined that you can't have healthcare or raised your healthcare premium higher than John's due to "factors." If a prosecutor can't read assembly language who knows if it was intentional or not?

If being trashy is a DNA trait, landlords should be able to filter against it.
 

pcgeekesq

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 23, 2012
Messages
1,399
So here's how this will play out:
  1. Facebook will pay a fine that is a tiny fraction of the profits these illegal features let them make, and
  2. Facebook will agree to eliminate these illegal features, and create new features that allow the same behavior in a much more subtle way.
  3. No one will go to jail, nor will anyone at Facebook have to pay a fine with their own money.
Because that's how the system works, and pretty much how it always has.
 

Master_shake_

Fully [H]
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
17,795
So here's how this will play out:
  1. Facebook will pay a fine that is a tiny fraction of the profits these illegal features let them make, and
  2. Facebook will agree to eliminate these illegal features, and create new features that allow the same behavior in a much more subtle way.
  3. No one will go to jail, nor will anyone at Facebook have to pay a fine with their own money.
Because that's how the system works, and pretty much how it always has.
i hate that you're right.
 

pcgeekesq

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 23, 2012
Messages
1,399
If I rented a property, I would discriminate like crazy. Having seen what given types of people are like with rental properties.
BTW, you're allowed to discriminate if the property is an owner-occupied 2-4 family residence.
Because there's this right of free association that means the government can't force you to live with scum (unless the scum is your child or parent ;) ).
 

Kinestron

Weaksauce
Joined
Mar 21, 2018
Messages
101
So here's how this will play out:
  1. Facebook will pay a fine that is a tiny fraction of the profits these illegal features let them make, and
  2. Facebook will agree to eliminate these illegal features, and create new features that allow the same behavior in a much more subtle way.
  3. No one will go to jail, nor will anyone at Facebook have to pay a fine with their own money.
Because that's how the system works, and pretty much how it always has.

I would say you ruined my day but it is already Monday.
 

Joust

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 30, 2017
Messages
5,478
So here's how this will play out:
  1. Facebook will pay a fine that is a tiny fraction of the profits these illegal features let them make, and
  2. Facebook will agree to eliminate these illegal features, and create new features that allow the same behavior in a much more subtle way.
  3. No one will go to jail, nor will anyone at Facebook have to pay a fine with their own money.
Because that's how the system works, and pretty much how it always has.

I think this is a fair assessment, though I don't know what the magnitude of damages could be - sometimes they can be very substantial.

People market to their preferred customers and have always done that. New condominium building looking for tenants - where to run your ads on radio,? Top 40? NPR? Hip hop? Vastly different audiences to be reached there. The trouble here is that it was overtly exclusionary. Suprised the tool - as structured - passed review internally.
 

TheHig

Gawd
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
968
Yeah a little too shady there Facebook!

However,

My Father in law has two rental houses and despite background checks, credit checks and interviews has been burned twice. On guy who wrecked his marriage by drinking decided to do donuts in the front yard once we served the 30 day notice to vacate among other wanton destruction of property. ( he was month to month in the lease and late all the time on rent once his wife left). The other place had a family long term who honestly weren’t that bad but left the state one night and abandoned tons of clothes, furniture and a garage full of broken TVs and loads of other junk. Took 2 months to clean rehab and re list the place all at the landlords expense.

Wife and I have already decided that we are OUT of the landlord game even though we just help here and there now.

I would, if I was a landlord, descriminate purely on how people conduct themselves if I had tools like this. Not race, religion etc. Just need a douchebag algorithm of some kind.
 
Last edited:

Monkey34

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Apr 11, 2003
Messages
5,137
I'm not condoning the way they implemented this, but all it will do is force the landlord to activate his prejudices/bias' when he sees the people looking at the place instead of before hand.

This happens anyway so nothing is really changed except eliminating a new way it happens.
 

Cyraxx

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Feb 21, 2005
Messages
4,114
Is it really discriminating if it's just targeted advertisements? Discrimination is saying that someone of a certain race/type/age can't apply or will be denied for such reasons.

Discriminating via advertisements... last I checked... is just targeted marketing. It doesn't prevent someone from seeking out places to rent and denies people from seeing said property is available.
 

Crackinjahcs

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 31, 2018
Messages
150
Is it really discriminating if it's just targeted advertisements? Discrimination is saying that someone of a certain race/type/age can't apply or will be denied for such reasons.

Discriminating via advertisements... last I checked... is just targeted marketing. It doesn't prevent someone from seeking out places to rent and denies people from seeing said property is available.

If I only put up advertisements at Church bulletin boards and not on the message board at a library am I discriminating? Maybe. If I hand out flyers to people going in to the local grocery store am I discriminating? No. If I only hand those flyers out to white people without kids am I discriminating? Yes.
 

Jagger100

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 31, 2004
Messages
7,696
The most that will come of this is that they'll tweak the behavior to be compliant. After the ass-kissing session in front of Congress, I'm pretty sure there will only be a token penalty that won't make facebook even flinch.
 

EODetroit

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 20, 2004
Messages
1,485
Is it really discriminating if it's just targeted advertisements? Discrimination is saying that someone of a certain race/type/age can't apply or will be denied for such reasons.

Discriminating via advertisements... last I checked... is just targeted marketing. It doesn't prevent someone from seeking out places to rent and denies people from seeing said property is available.

Either the Fair Housing Act has language that addresses this, or it doesn't.
 

kju1

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 27, 2002
Messages
3,460
Kinda hard to avoid this one. I welcome our new parks funded by Facebook suit money.

Oh come on now you know not one dime of that money will actually go towards something that benefits the public. It will likely end up in some politicians pocket or shuffled off to fund some pork.
 

PantherBlitz

Limp Gawd
Joined
Apr 14, 2011
Messages
421
FB was bound to get a complaint. Allowing filters based on users likes and profile eventually would trigger something. They bumped into an area where targeted advertising should just stay out.

Some of these may seem common-sense, such as filtering based on income in order to avoid situations such as paying to advertise a $1 Million townhouse to people who obviously can't afford it, but HUD rules have been what they are for some time now.
 

Xrave

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jun 29, 2004
Messages
7,568
Not sure the different of using this tool, or putting up your own paper flyers in public areas in very affluent neighborhoods. In both cases you are being selective about who you are advertising to.
 

Exavior

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Dec 13, 2005
Messages
9,700
I recall hearing about this months ago. Took them long enough.

If I was a landlord I would love these tools. The renters across the street from me installed an above ground pool in the front yard. Only took the HOA about a month to take care of that though.

But, I am not a landlord so I will frown at Facebooks policies.

If I rented a property, I would discriminate like crazy. Having seen what given types of people are like with rental properties.

who is to say every white family will be the perfect renters because they are white and that every black family is going to be a shit renter that trashes everything? who is to say one religion or lack of religion would be better?

there is a difference between discrimination and doing a background check to only rent to good people. Not renting to somebody that never pays rent is fine. Not renting to somebody because they are black is not.
 

Mohonri

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 29, 2005
Messages
5,757
I'm not condoning the way they implemented this, but all it will do is force the landlord to activate his prejudices/bias' when he sees the people looking at the place instead of before hand.
Yeah, I know a couple people who do the whole landlording gig. You had better believe they are picky about who they choose to rent to. I think it's important to remember that landlords *have* to be at least somewhat picky about their renters, in order to minimize the risk of a renter trashing the place, turning into a meth lab, not paying rent, etc. At the same time, however, if they're *too* picky, they can easily end up with vacancies, which are bad for business.

I think it's also worth pointing out that advertisers pay Facebook according to the exposure they get. Targeted advertising makes it more efficient--it's helpful to the customer because it reduces irrelevant ads, and it helps the advertiser by reducing irrelevant impressions.

The tricky part is deciding what's ok for a landlord to consider when they're trying to minimize their risk. A single mom might pose a greater risk of falling behind on her rent than a couple of DINKs. A person from a middle-class neighborhood may be a lower risk than someone from a low-income area. Refugees from some countries are more likely to be pleasant tenants than those from other countries, simply due to cultural differences. Someone of Asian descent may be a lower risk than a white person. Deciding what characteristics are acceptable as a filter and which ones are not is very tricky.
 

kju1

2[H]4U
Joined
Mar 27, 2002
Messages
3,460
Not renting to somebody that never pays rent is fine.

Unless you do business in Baltimore. I had a propspective tenant sue me because I declined to rent to them due to 10evictions in the past 5 years. Yes 10. They won. The judge ruled I owed them for moving expenses to a new house (they never moved into mine, I never signed a lease with them). I am appealing of course but the judge "wanted to make an example of landlords who discriminate". I used a standard form that a lawyer prepared and on it I asked if they had any prior evictions...he didnt like that I asked that.
 

Xrave

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jun 29, 2004
Messages
7,568
Unless you do business in Baltimore. I had a propspective tenant sue me because I declined to rent to them due to 10evictions in the past 5 years. Yes 10. They won. The judge ruled I owed them for moving expenses to a new house (they never moved into mine, I never signed a lease with them). I am appealing of course but the judge "wanted to make an example of landlords who discriminate". I used a standard form that a lawyer prepared and on it I asked if they had any prior evictions...he didnt like that I asked that.

Would like an update on that outcome once there is one.
 

Joust

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 30, 2017
Messages
5,478
Unless you do business in Baltimore. I had a propspective tenant sue me because I declined to rent to them due to 10evictions in the past 5 years. Yes 10. They won. The judge ruled I owed them for moving expenses to a new house (they never moved into mine, I never signed a lease with them). I am appealing of course but the judge "wanted to make an example of landlords who discriminate". I used a standard form that a lawyer prepared and on it I asked if they had any prior evictions...he didnt like that I asked that.

What do you expect? Look at the environment that is Baltimore. I'd have to be very, very anchored to stay there. It's possible, but...not on my top 100 list.
 
  • Like
Reactions: kju1
like this

ccityinstaller

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Feb 23, 2007
Messages
4,241
Unless you do business in Baltimore. I had a propspective tenant sue me because I declined to rent to them due to 10evictions in the past 5 years. Yes 10. They won. The judge ruled I owed them for moving expenses to a new house (they never moved into mine, I never signed a lease with them). I am appealing of course but the judge "wanted to make an example of landlords who discriminate". I used a standard form that a lawyer prepared and on it I asked if they had any prior evictions...he didnt like that I asked that.

Shit like this is why I got the hell out of Maryland.
 
D

Deleted member 184142

Guest
I recall hearing about this months ago. Took them long enough.





who is to say every white family will be the perfect renters because they are white and that every black family is going to be a shit renter that trashes everything? who is to say one religion or lack of religion would be better?

there is a difference between discrimination and doing a background check to only rent to good people. Not renting to somebody that never pays rent is fine. Not renting to somebody because they are black is not.

Who said anything about color other than you?
 

Wrecked Em

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Sep 14, 2004
Messages
7,696
Unless you do business in Baltimore. I had a propspective tenant sue me because I declined to rent to them due to 10evictions in the past 5 years. Yes 10. They won. The judge ruled I owed them for moving expenses to a new house (they never moved into mine, I never signed a lease with them). I am appealing of course but the judge "wanted to make an example of landlords who discriminate". I used a standard form that a lawyer prepared and on it I asked if they had any prior evictions...he didnt like that I asked that.

This guy probably did this for a living. I worked at a place where a girl sued for sexual harassment. It turned out that her mom had won 4 or 5 settlements already in recent years and one currently at that time. Apparently prior settlement information was not admissible in court, so every time looked like the firat. Her mom figured out the formula and was passing it down.
 

Exavior

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Dec 13, 2005
Messages
9,700
Would like an update on that outcome once there is one.

Same here as that is fucked up.

Who said anything about color other than you?

well... That is what this is about. When you post an ad you can say don't show it to gays, blacks, poor people, Mexicans.... If you are for using factors like that and that alone you are grouping all blacks into the same level of paying bills, or all whites, or all Asians.... How else do you discriminate to rent based on skin color, religion, sexual preference, or nationality and nothing based on a background check?

This guy probably did this for a living. I worked at a place where a girl sued for sexual harassment. It turned out that her mom had won 4 or 5 settlements already in recent years and one currently at that time. Apparently prior settlement information was not admissible in court, so every time looked like the firat. Her mom figured out the formula and was passing it down.

Yeah, I know a few people like that. Knows how to play some type of game where they are always in court. Like you said previous cases aren't looked at so the fact they pull the same shit over and over gets ignored.
 
Joined
Aug 3, 2017
Messages
794
this is for ads right? not a restriction on a search database....
if on air, they have these metrics on these identifiers to decide when to air. You wouldn't air an ad for a new exclusive neighborhood during an urban culture program. So is the gov suppose to restrict gathering of such information?
 

Exavior

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Dec 13, 2005
Messages
9,700
this is for ads right? not a restriction on a search database....
if on air, they have these metrics on these identifiers to decide when to air. You wouldn't air an ad for a new exclusive neighborhood during an urban culture program. So is the gov suppose to restrict gathering of such information?

The problem is that legally you can't discriminate against who you are renting to. Part of that is lying to people about what you have for rent or steering them away from renting. So for example lets say I have 3 buildings I rent units from. Maybe I don't like something about you (race, age, gender) and instead of letting you rent in the building you asked about I instead offer you a unit in some other place where I want to put people like you. I can't do that. You also need to be careful when you say exclusive, exclusive to whom? That is the entire point of the law. You can't make a building exclusive for any biased reason that not everyone has a equal chance to quality for. Price is fine, if you can't afford it you can't rent it. Normally background checks coming back with certain criminal backgrounds, history of failure to pay, bad references,... is good enough however one person above appears to have found the one judge that doesn't think those should be allowed in his city. That is because a black single woman can have a good job and be able to pass all those and get the place to rent, so could a Muslim family, a gay couple... So you are not preventing a certain group from applying. Hiding yourself from gay couples, or out right saying no gay people allowed in the building means that gay couples can't rent from you and that you are preventing them from doing so.

In this case, they are viewing it as not being equal for everyone to rent the places. If you refuse to show your ad to people of a certain type you are not giving them equal access to the knowledge that you have a unit for rent. Or maybe I just show your type the shitty place so that you only know about that location and leave my nice place for white, married, heterosexual families. If you start to single out people of a certain group that means that you don't want them in your place otherwise you would show your ad to everyone. it is one thing to now want to show your high end apartments to people that work at Wendy's but another when you say you don't want this skin color to have knowledge about it, or this nationality. At that point you are trying to hide it from them to hopefully keep those people out of your place. They aren't using valid filters, they are using ones for discriminatory groups. This is different from airing at a certain time on a certain channel or being in a certain publication. Everyone that has a certain station sees the commercials so you aren't preventing anyone from seeing that as long as they have access to that station. Same goes for articles, anyone can read a magazine or news paper. So in those examples you aren't hiding from a single group of people.
 

Dekoth-E-

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Mar 23, 2010
Messages
7,599
I've dealt first hand with rental properties for years. Look I'm just going to be blunt. There are in fact certain demographics that have a disproportionately higher percentage chance of being terrible tenants and trashing the place. This no matter how much you want to cry discrimination is just a flat fact. That said there is a fairly easy way to discriminate without breaking any laws in this case. Higher rent or drastically higher security deposits do a fantastic job of discouraging those people from applying.
 

thebufenator

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Dec 8, 2004
Messages
1,367
Considering 99% of people suck, I don't really have a problem with landlords doing their best to filter out shitty renters.

Also, I will likely never be a landlord due to shitty renters......too much risk
 

Dekoth-E-

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Mar 23, 2010
Messages
7,599
Considering 99% of people suck, I don't really have a problem with landlords doing their best to filter out shitty renters.

Also, I will likely never be a landlord due to shitty renters......too much risk

You just have the proper insurance. There is only real risk if you are a Scumlord and rent out shit property to shit renters and have shit for insurance. Have a decent place to rent, rent at a proper rate that includes insurance to cover it in case a dipshit gets through and don't worry about it.
 

thebufenator

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Dec 8, 2004
Messages
1,367
You just have the proper insurance. There is only real risk if you are a Scumlord and rent out shit property to shit renters and have shit for insurance. Have a decent place to rent, rent at a proper rate that includes insurance to cover it in case a dipshit gets through and don't worry about it.

Does insurance eat into profits at all?

Does it cover loss of rent when fixing a trashed house?
 
D

Deleted member 184142

Guest
Same here as that is fucked up.



well... That is what this is about. When you post an ad you can say don't show it to gays, blacks, poor people, Mexicans.... If you are for using factors like that and that alone you are grouping all blacks into the same level of paying bills, or all whites, or all Asians.... How else do you discriminate to rent based on skin color, religion, sexual preference, or nationality and nothing based on a background check?



Yeah, I know a few people like that. Knows how to play some type of game where they are always in court. Like you said previous cases aren't looked at so the fact they pull the same shit over and over gets ignored.

You didn't read the complaint did you?

Let me quote it for you.

"Facebook enables advertisers to discriminate based on race and color by drawing a red line around majority-minority zip codes and not showing ads to users who live in those zip codes."

In other words, it is the same as only putting up ads in more well off or lower crime etc etc areas, they could be of any race, as it's a flat area block, not based on skin color.
 
Top