The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Thursday accused Facebook of violating the Fair Housing act for housing discrimination on its ad platform, according to CNN Business.
The department said that social media platform is “encouraging, enabling, and causing” discrimination with their housing ads.
“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” HUD Secretary, Ben Carson said in a statement. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”
HUD filed a complaint against the outlet in August, with claims that it lets advertisers “engage in housing discrimination.” The statement details that landlords and people who sell homes can control who is able to view ads based on “race, religion, sex, disability and other characteristics.”
Facebook said it was “surprised” about HUD’s complaint on Thursday, stating they had been working with them to address issues and have also taken “significant steps” to fix the problem.
“Last year we eliminated thousands of targeting options that could potentially be misused, and just last week we reached historic agreements with the National Fair Housing Alliance, ACLU, and others that change the way housing, credit, and employment ads can be run on Facebook,” a spokesperson for Facebook told CNN Business.
“We’re disappointed by today’s developments, but we’ll continue working with civil rights experts on these issues,” the spokesperson added. The social media platform stated they were “eager” to fix their concerns but HUD wanted “access to sensitive information”
Last week, Facebook said they were willing to pay approximately $5 million dollars in settlements regarding five lawsuits that claim advertisers were allowed to discriminate against certain groups with ads about housing, employment and credit through the platform’s targeting technology. They also revealed they would take the needed measures to address the issue.