Facebook to remove over 5K ad target options to curb discrimination

Facebook to remove over 5K ad target options to curb discrimination
© Greg Nash

Facebook announced on Tuesday that it’s removing more than 5,000 ad targeting options in an effort to reduce the potential for discrimination on its platform.

In the fall, after the options are removed, advertisers will no longer be able to exclude certain religions and races in their targeted ads on Facebook.

“We're committed to protecting people from discriminatory advertising on our platforms. That's why we're removing over 5,000 targeting options to help prevent misuse,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the decision.

The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company defended the exclusion options as having been used in “legitimate ways to reach people,” but said that it now believes “minimizing the risk of abuse is more important.”

Facebook’s move comes days after the Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a complaint against the social media company, accusing it of being in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

“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,” Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Anna María Farías had said in a statement.

Facebook had previously fielded criticism on this from lawmakers who were frustrated that advertisers could exclude racial minorities from housing advertisements.

This past fall, Democratic Reps. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyThe Congressional Black Caucus: America stands to lose a lot under TrumpCare Pelosi joins other Dem leaders in support of Chicago Symphony Orchestra strikers Hillicon Valley: US threatens to hold intel from Germany over Huawei | GOP senator targets FTC over privacy | Bipartisan bill would beef up 'internet of things' security | Privacy groups seize on suspended NSA program | Tesla makes U-turn MORE (Ill.), G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldRace and the digital divide: Why broadband access is more than an urban vs rural issue Amazon hiring alcohol lobbyist GOP lawmaker draws backlash for telling Democratic colleague to 'shut up' during heated ObamaCare debate MORE (N.C.), Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeDem lawmakers urge FCC to scrutinize broadcast workforce diversity Hillicon Valley: House votes to reinstate net neutrality rules | GOP lawmakers lay into Twitter, Facebook over censorship claims | Amazon workers push company on climate | Bill targets algorithmic bias | Yahoo to pay 7M in breach settlement Dems introduce bill targeting bias in algorithms MORE (N.Y.) and Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.) penned a letter to Facebook urging it to drop the exclusion and Congressional Black Caucus members pressed the matter during a meeting in October with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.