New York investigating whether Facebook allows advertisers to discriminate

by Ryan Smith05 Jul 2019

The governor of New York is calling on the state’s financial watchdog to investigate whether Facebook allows housing discrimination on its site.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) to investigate whether state-regulated advertisers are using the social media titan’s platform to discriminate against protected classes.

“The allegations against Facebook advertisers are extremely troubling and fly in the face of everything that New York stands for,” Cuomo said. “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 those who are behind these reprehensible alleged practices are held fully accountable.”

“DFS is committed to ensuring that all New Yorkers are protected and not discriminated against, no matter whether they’re engaged in social media apps or simply opening a bank account,” said DFS Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell. “The department will investigate Facebook advertisers to examine these disturbing allegations, and we are prepared to take whatever measures necessary to make certain that all financial providers are in compliance with New York’s stringent statutory and consumer protections.”

According to reports, Facebook’s advertising platform allows advertisers to modify or block ads using ZIP code information to filter out consumers based on ethnicity, national origin, religion, family status, sex and disability, Cuomo’s office said. The social media giant has already come under fire for allowing advertisers to filter ads in such a way that they violate the Fair Housing Act. After being sued by several consumer groups and investigated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Facebook announced a raft of changes to its advertising policy.