Facebook still allowing discrimination against Jews, others in housing ads
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Facebook still allowing discrimination against Jews, others in housing ads

Social media behemoth admits failure after ProPublica able to buy ads excluding users with ‘Judaism’ in profile

Haredi teams at work during Hackathon at Facebook offices in Tel Aviv; Nov. 16, 2017 (Shoshanna Solomon/TimesofIsrael)
Haredi teams at work during Hackathon at Facebook offices in Tel Aviv; Nov. 16, 2017 (Shoshanna Solomon/TimesofIsrael)

NEW YORK — A year after Facebook vowed to stamp out discriminatory advertising, landlords can still exclude specific races, minorities and other categories of people from seeing rental ads on the social media site.

ProPublica bought dozens of rental housing ads last week and had no issue filtering out Jews, African-Americans, Spanish speakers and many more groups from viewing them, the news site reported Tuesday.

One ad excluded Facebook users with “interests” such as “Judaism,” “Hasidic Judaism,” “Orthodox Judaism” and “Reform Judaism.”

“This was a failure in our enforcement and we’re disappointed that we fell short of our commitments,” Ami Vora, Facebook’s vice president of product management, said in a statement to ProPublica. “The rental housing ads purchased by ProPublica should have but did not trigger the extra review and certifications we put in place due to a technical failure.”

Under the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to publish housing advertisements that indicate “any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.”

In September, ProPublica reported that Facebook’s ad buyers could reach “Jew haters” and other anti-Semitic categories of people. Facebook said it would hire thousands of more employees to improve its anti-discrimination monitoring.

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