From The Wall Street Journal:
Facebook Inc. is removing age, gender and ZIP Code targeting for housing, employment and credit-related ads as part of a settlement with advocacy groups and other plaintiffs.
The new actions—and just under $5 million in payments—settle five discrimination lawsuits filed by the National Fair Housing Alliance, the Communications Workers of America and others, the company said.
“There is a long history of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, and credit, and this harmful behavior should not happen through Facebook ads,” Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a blog post that will be published on Tuesday afternoon, according to a spokesman.
Facebook has faced pressure on targeting around such ads for years, sparked by a 2016 report from investigative-news site ProPublica, which said it had been able to buy ads targeted to house hunters that excluded certain groups based on ethnicity. While Facebook didn’t allow targeting specifically by race, it lets advertisers seek consumers by criteria it calls “ethnic affinity.”
Soon after that report, Facebook said it would no longer let marketers target housing, employment and credit-related ads by ethnic affinity.
The company will now add further restrictions on targeting such ads to U.S. consumers. Geographic targets, for example, will have a minimum 15-mile radius from any specific address or city center, according to Facebook. And the “Lookalike Audience” tool, which lets advertisers try to find Facebook users who resemble the customers they already know, won’t incorporate factors such as age, religious views or Facebook Group membership when targeting these ads.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal
PG will note that placing an advertisement in The Wall Street Journal will guarantee reaching a specific type audience that will be overrepresented in certain personal and household characteristics, including housing type, employment, income and creditworthiness and that advertisement will not reach many members of groups that do not share such attributes.
Ditto for television commercials shown on Meet the Press and Wall Street Week (now Maria Bartiromo’s Wall Street). On the other hand, an advertisement placed in Successful Farming, Sports Illustrated or American Rifleman magazines will reach entirely different audiences with different demographic profiles.
Is ethnicity verboten when trying to deliver a message to a particular group for which it may be valuable? If that is the case, where should The Chicago Defender, Essence, HelloBeautiful, Hyphen, The Brazilians and Khaas Baat be classed? Can these publications ethically try to find people who resemble the customers they already know?