WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to make sweeping changes to prevent discriminatory housing advertising practices.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had filed a complaint accusing Meta of violating the Fair Housing Act. It alleged modern redlining, saying Meta’s algorithm advertised housing listings to some users while excluding others on the basis of sex, race, income, religion or disability.
Under the settlement, Meta says it is building a new system to “ensure the age, gender and estimated race … of a housing ad’s overall audience matches the age, gender, and estimated race … of the population eligible to see that ad.”
Meta has until December to make those changes to avoid further federal action.
Some lawmakers are skeptical Meta can be trusted.
“We’re going to have to stay on top of this,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., who chairs the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, said.
He previously wrote to Meta complaining about unfair housing ads.
“I said to (Meta CEO) Mr. (Mark) Zuckerberg, ‘You’re going to have to give some major attention this,'” Cleaver said.
He said the platform needs permanent oversight to ensure new discriminatory practices don’t appear.
“If we take our eyes off this new Meta platform, there’s no telling what could happen,” he said.
He said he would like to bring Zuckerberg back to Capitol Hill to testify about housing discrimination and a long list of issues concerning Meta’s algorithms. He said regulations are overdue.