This Facebook Feature Lets Advertisers Target Specifically by Race

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 25:  In this photo illustration the Social networking site Facebook is displayed on a laptop screen on March 25, 2009 in London, England. The British government has made proposals which would force Social networking websites such as Facebook to pass on details of users, friends and contacts to help fight terrorism.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

This Facebook Feature Lets Advertisers Target Specifically by Race

According to the platform, you may exclude every race besides white.

Published October 29, 2016

Facebook has a current system in place allowing advertisers to selectively exclude Black, Hispanic and other "ethnic affinities" (as the company words it) from seeing certain ads, an option that white readers are not subjected to.

Essentially what the social media platform is currently doing is giving advertisers the opportunity to discriminate freely, categorizing ads to be visible to whichever demographic they choose.

Facebook's decision to send media back to a time reminiscent of the Jim Crow era is granting white people access to information and advertising that people of color don't have access to. Needless to say, many are questioning how this is legal, with many making a case that it isn't.

When ProPublica presented John Relman, a civil rights lawyer, with this information he was shocked at how blatantly the company is breaking the law with its racial exclusion options.

"This is horrifying," the lawyer said. "This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find."

The law in question was passed in 1968 and made 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."

The New York Times, for one major example, was sued back in 1989 for a violation of the Fair Housing Act, agreeing to review ads for their content and make sure that they didn't include discriminatory content.

Facebook took a preventative measure by noting in its policies that it prohibits advertisers from using the options to target specific audiences for "discrimination, harassment, disparagement or predatory advertising practices."

The way that the social media site currently works is that it assigns users an "ethic affinity" based on pages and posts that they have liked, or commented on, and that the "ethic affinity" does not equal ones race, which the company doesn't ask its members to disclose.

Facebook currently is defending its platform and advertising format, saying that since they don't ask members to disclose their actual race, the posts that exclude people based on their "ethnic affinity" are basically just targeting who Facebook is guessing the advertisers want to target.

Take a look at an example of Facebook's specific advertising layout in the posts below.

Written by KC Orcutt

(Photo; Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)


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