New York (The Verge) — What happens next in the housing discrimination case against Facebook? theverge.com/2019/4/2/18286….
Facebook’s legal fight with HUD over housing discrimination could be a test of how long-standing discrimination rules intersect with the laws of the internet.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Facebook for allegedly making housing discrimination easy. It claimed that Facebook violated the Fair Housing Act by letting ad buyers target audiences that included or excluded certain races, religions, or genders. The move took many people by surprise, apparently including Facebook. Soon, it could test how long-standing rules against housing discrimination intersect with the sometimes controversial laws covering web platforms and how they apply to the vast, often little-understood advertising networks that help power the internet.
HUD’s suit isn’t the first case involving an online service. Rental service <a href="Roommates.com and classified” target=”_blank” alt=”” title=””>Roommates.com and classified site Craigslist both went to court in 2008 to fight charges that they’d enabled racist or otherwise exclusionary listings. Both companies claimed protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields web platforms from liability for user posts. Craigslist successfully made the defense, but Roommates.com was held partially liable because it had offered a survey that included discriminatory questions.
When civil rights groups sued Facebook over housing discrimination last year, Facebook used Section 230 as a defense, saying it had only provided a set of general advertising tools. That argument wasn’t tested in court, however, so we don’t know how courts will treat ad-targeting options like Facebook’s now-defunct “ethnic affinity” selector. — Adi Robertson/@verge