Facebook execs responded this week to accusations that they’re skirting anti-discrimination laws by allowing advertisers to target users by their ethnicity.
The social media company’s “ethnic affinity” marketing tools help marketers “to reach multicultural audiences with more relevant advertising, according to a blog post from Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer.
Facebook will not permit marketers who plan to advertise housing, credit or employment to use the ethnic affinity tool.
Facebook’s response comes in the wake of a report from Pro Publica, which revealed that the tool actually allowed them to create an ad for an event and exclude black, Hispanic and other “ethnic affinities” from seeing the ad.
John Relman, a civil rights lawyer, told Pro Publica:
This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find.