Facebook Ends Advertising Option Targeting Race After Denying Any Wrongdoing

REUTERS/Stephen Lam

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Facebook is discontinuing a feature that allows advertisers to select audience based on race and ethnicity, after originally claiming that a lawsuit against itself was baseless.

Facebook plans on creating tools to “detect and automatically disable” the employment of such types of marketing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The social media company has a self-service advertising page that offers many different functions, including the ability to “narrow audience” for demographics, specifically, “ethnic affinity.”

[Screenshot of Daily Caller's Facebook Ad Manager]

[Screenshot of Daily Caller’s Facebook Ad Manager]

A class action lawsuit filed in California last week, accused Facebook of violating key civil rights laws, like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as the Fair Housing Act.

“This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find,” John Relman, a civil rights lawyer, told ProPublica, a journalism nonprofit that first discovered the advertising sequence.

The social media company apparently disagrees with this contention.

“The lawsuit is utterly without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.  Multicultural marketing is a common practice in the ad industry and helps brands reach audiences with more relevant advertising. Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, and they require compliance with the law,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.

Whether or not the lawsuit is of dubious legitimacy, Facebook eliminated the advertising option permitting the targeting of certain ethnicities (which simultaneously and inherently excludes other ethnicities).

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