Is This Really 2016?
It is hard to imagine even at the height of the Jim Crow era, a newspaper that offered advertisers the option to place ad’s in copies that were distributed to ONLY white people. It seems strange, but that is exactly what Facebook has been doing.
The social media page not only allows advertisers to target users by their background or specific interest, but it gives them the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other factors which are technically illegal by federal law.
Here is an example of a housing ad placed that excludes certain minorities based on the conception that they would not be able to afford said housing.
Well-known civil rights lawyer, John Relman, when finding out about this feature was shocked and said, ““This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find.”
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 makes it illegal “to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.” Punishment involved thousands of dollars in fines.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits the “printing or publication of notices or advertisements indicating prohibited preference, limitation, specification or discrimination” in job recruitment.
Facebook’s business model not only involves extreme surveying of ones internet viewing habits, but also one that allows people to exclude a particular racial group. While Facebook claimed that they do not allow adds that specifically say “Whites only”, allowing them to filter based on ethnicity is the same for all practical purposes.