Facebook will drop one of its algorithms deemed ‘discriminatory’

The US and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, have reached an agreement under which the social network will no longer have to use “Lookalike Audience”, which the US Department of Justice considers discriminatory. This tool, according to the latter, is based on a controversial algorithm that makes it possible to target the target audience of Internet users by advertising. The Justice Department press release explained that the rental offers were only intended for Facebook users of certain religions, races, genders and social statuses.

This targeting and distribution of these ads violates the Fair Housing Act, a US law that prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. In France, regulations also prohibit landlords from rejecting a tenant on the basis of certain criteria considered discriminatory such as national or ethnic origin, physical appearance, gender, age, sexual orientation, and location. Administration. Facebook’s algorithm was able to identify users who “look like” other users based on characteristics protected by US law.

Facebook is now under tight control over its ad targeting and delivery system

By December 31, Facebook will have to stop using this tool. It also pledged, in a statement issued on Tuesday, June 21, to implement a new system to address racial and other disparities resulting from its use of algorithms in the housing ad display system. In the settlement, Meta makes clear that the agreement does not constitute an admission of guilt or an admission of liability.

But now Facebook will be subject to approval by the Department of Justice and US court oversight of the ad targeting and ad serving system. It is already expected that a third party will “constantly investigate and verify” that the system to be put in place by Facebook will effectively ensure the fair and equitable distribution of advertisements.

A similar settlement was already reached in 2019

Facebook had already agreed in March 2019 to overhaul ad targeting systems to avoid discrimination in housing, credit and job ads, as part of a settlement reached with a group that includes associations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Housing Alliance, The Guardian reports on June 22. Mark Zuckerberg has promised that advertisers who want to show ads related to housing, jobs or credit will not be allowed to target people based on age, gender or zip code.

From now on, American justice goes further. Meta will also have to pay a fine of $115,054: a pittance for a company that makes billions of dollars every month. This however is the maximum fine for violating the Fair Housing Act, came to remind the US Department of Justice.