Facebook is finally addressing its sexist ad problem, and it's about time
As accusations continue to pile up against Facebook, the social media giant is trying its best to right its many recent wrongs. On March 19th, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg released a press statement announcing “changes in how we manage housing, employment and credit ads.” The social media site previously allowed advertisers to discriminate against who saw ads for things like specific job opportunities or apartment buildings (meaning an ad for a specific professional opportunity might be shown almost exclusively to, say, white men). However, thanks to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the National Fair Housing Alliance, this will not continue.
After consulting a civil rights law firm, Facebook has now enacted three new policies to prohibit discriminatory ad strategies. Advertisers are now banned from targeting their ads to users of a certain age, gender, or by zip code. Furthermore, housing, employment, and credit advertisers will have a smaller set of targeting categories to use in their campaigns. The site is also building a housing search tool that anyone can use, regardless of if housing is being advertised to them or not.
Facebook previously defended their former policy, telling Mashable in 2016, “The lawsuit [filed by the ACLU and National Fair Housing Alliance] is utterly without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”
However, the company ultimately settled in court and agreed to change its ways.
Sometimes it’s best to admit defeat. Because let’s be honest, Facebook—y’all were wrong. There’s still a lot of mess to pick up, but at least the people behind the platform seem willing to change to better their product.