New York governor wants Facebook housing discrimination claims investigated

by Duffie Osental08 Jul 2019

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked the Department of Financial Services to investigate reports that Facebook has allowed housing providers to discriminate against potential residents from protected classes.

This is the latest investigation into allegations that the social media giant has been allowing housing discrimination on its targeted advertising platform. In March, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) launched a federal probe into whether Facebook’s platform violates the Fair Housing Act.

In a statement, Cuomo’s office cited reports that Facebook's advertising platform allows advertisers to modify or block ads using ZIP code information to exclude consumers based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex and disability, among other classifications. In addition to the specific tools made available to advertisers, Facebook also allegedly uses machine learning and predictive analytics to categorize users to project each user's likely response to a given ad, which may recreate groupings defined by their protected class.

"The allegations against Facebook advertisers are extremely troubling and fly in the face of everything that New York stands for," said Cuomo. "I am calling on the Department of Financial Services to investigate these claims and help ensure that New Yorkers seeking housing for themselves and their families are not discriminated against in any way. We will take aggressive action and ensure that those who are behind these reprehensible alleged practices are held fully accountable."

"We are taking action to fully uncover the deeply concerning allegations being made against Facebook," said New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Our state will not tolerate any form of discrimination and will actively work to ensure fairness and equality for all New Yorkers. This investigation is an important step forward to protect people's rights."