The instances of Facebook acting like a shadowy overload just keep piling up. In the most recent reveal of their villainous plots, Ben Carson claims the social media giant uses racist advertising algorithms.
Carson is secretary for the Department of Housing and Development (HUD) and just dropped this bombshell of a report.
“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live. Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”
This isn’t the first time such an issue has arisen either. In 2016, ProPublica led an investigation that found Facebook employed an “ethnic affinities” tool in its advertising. These tools had the ability to block black or Hispanic users from viewing specific ads, which was abused by employers, real estate companies and more.
After the fallout of that investigation, Facebook removed the tool and many similar features. However, according the new HUD report Facebook’s automated algorithms are continuing to segregate ads to people based on race, even if the actual advertiser is seeking to reach out to a multicultural audience.
This essentially outs Facebook as having racist math behind its programming. Which is bad news for Zuckerberg as discrimination is still against the law.
“Even as we confront new technologies, the fair housing laws enacted over half a century ago remain clear — discrimination in housing-related advertising is against the law,” HUD General Counsel Paul Compton stated. “Just because a process to deliver advertising is opaque and complex doesn’t mean that it exempts Facebook and others from our scrutiny and the law of the land.”
The HUD complaint reads that “[Facebook] has provided a toggle button that enables advertisers to exclude men or women from seeing an ad, a search-box to exclude people who do not speak a specific language from seeing an ad, and a map tool to exclude people who live in a specified area from seeing an ad by drawing a red line around that area.”