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Meta must remove discriminating criteria from its advertising targeting technologies

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According to the US government, social networking technologies allowed advertisers to choose who could see their advertisements, based on gender, skin color, social background, religion, family status or even their physical situation.

It’s a historic agreementwelcomed Kristen Clarke, civil rights officer at the Department of Justice, quoted in a press release on Tuesday.

This is the first time Meta will end one of its algorithmic targeting tools and change its algorithms for housing ads after civil rights lawsuitsshe added.

Meta claims that Russian accounts actively seek to redirect users to disinformation sites.

Photo: Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

A complaint that dates back to 2019

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Planning filed a lawsuit against Facebook in March 2019, alleging that companies had used the platform’s tools to exclude people categorized as related, not born in the United States, not Christian, interested in disability access, Hispanic culture, or a wide range of other interests.

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The agreement reached on Tuesday after a year of talks still needs to be approved by a court.

It provides that the Californian giant of social networks modify its targeting system for housing advertisements, in order to avoid these biases, under the control of the ministry.

Meta has been accused of discriminating against certain groups of people looking for housing.

Photo: /TurnedNews.com/Ben Nelms/CBC

Meta, for its part, explained that it is working on a method that is supposed to guarantee that users who see these ads, but also those for jobs or credits, better correspond to the audiences targeted and eligible for these offerssaid Roy Austin, the group’s vice president for civil rights, in a statement.

He recalled that the company, world number two in digital advertising, had already changed its practices after the 2019 complaint: advertisers who post housing offers on our platforms already have access to only a limited number of targeting criteria […], including restrictions on age, gender or zip code. Our new method is built on this foundation.

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But given the complexity of the problem, he said, this will take time to test and implement.

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