HUD Launches Another Facebook Investigation After Receiving More Complaints About Discriminatory Housing Ads

facebook investigationHUD announced they are launching another Facebook investigation about real estate ads. The agency launched a Facebook investigation last year but halted it earlier this year. However, new information has come to light.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s office issued the following statement:

Secretary Carson has directed HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to re-open its investigation into Facebook’s advertising practices. Since our initial investigation, we have learned more about these practices that warrant a deeper level of scrutiny. At this point, we are resuming an investigation.

The investigation began was in response to a ProPublica article in October 2016.  Reporters Julia Angwin and Terry Parris Jr. found Facebook gave advertisers the ability to exclude certain ethnic groups from seeing the ads.

However, HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s aides ordered housing division officials to cancel their meeting Facebook executives. Glenn Thrush of The New York Times reported:

Then, after taking office, Ms. Farías sent a one-page letter to Facebook ordering, without explanation, the termination of a preliminary investigation into the company’s advertising practices.

HUD Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity division head Anna Maria Farías ordered around six fair housing investigations halted after coming into her new position, the article pointed out.

Fair housing groups later filed a lawsuit against Facebook last month. They say ads still discriminate against protected groups under the Fair Housing Act including women, veterans with disabilities and single mothers.

But now, HUD says it is reopening the case due to new information that has come to light after studying Facebook’s case.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson didn’t offer much in the way of an explanation. He told the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee that while studying the case, the department uncovered new, concerning facts.


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