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Racist?: Facebook advertisers can exclude racial groups in housing ads

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SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook advertisers can exclude specific racial and ethnic groups when placing housing ads in potential violation of federal anti-discrimination housing laws, according to a Pro Publica report.

Using a designation called “Ethnic Affinities,” Facebook lets advertisers target and exclude certain groups of Facebook users when placing ads for a new apartment or a house for sale. Pro Publica says it placed an ad for a housing-related event that excluded African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics.

Facebook says it bans advertisers from using “Ethnic Affinities” to discriminate against racial or ethnic groups.

Facebook generates nearly all of its revenue from advertising. Key to its success: letting advertisers target very specific audiences by tapping into the extraordinary amount of data Facebook collects on its 1.71 billion users which it supplements with information purchased from data brokers. Facebook says its users cannot identify their race or ethnicity on Facebook. Affinity targeting is based on interests they have declared or Facebook pages they have liked. – READ MORE

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