- Facebook says it’s ending its ethnic affinity marketing platform after complaints that it discriminated based on race, reports USA Today. Advertisers using the social media giant’s site could post ads for housing, employment or credit and click “exclusion” for people or behaviors they didn’t want as their target market.
- Facebook initially denied that its ad-buy platform was deliberately biased, and expressed no plans to shut it down. But following a lawsuit charging the company with racial discrimination and talks with concerned civil rights groups; lawmakers, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the company decided it would end the advertising platform in its current form.
- Facebook will require advertisers to agree not to post discriminatory ads on the site and will offer materials to educate them on understanding their obligations, said Erin Egan, the company’s vice president of U.S. public policy.
Facebook always maintained that it has anti-discrimination policies. But having them doesn’t mean discrimination isn’t occurring. Even the perception of bias can trigger a discrimination charge or a lawsuit, especially within the workplace. Companies can review their policies and practices, and readjust or end them, if necessary, to ensure they’re complying with the law before legal action occurs.
By putting weight behind its zero-tolerance discrimination policy with an ad buyers’ agreement, the company has a better chance of defending itself against similar charges of biased advertising in the future. Facebook is working to improve diversity recruiting at their own workplace. Ensuring recruiting bias is reduced by fixing their platform may help companies more generally avoid biased hiring, too.