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Why was Meta sued for discrimination in housing ads, and what happened next?

Social media giant Meta has settled a case with the US government accusing it enabling racial discrimination in housing through Special Ad Audiences

FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta is placed on laptop keyboard in this illustration taken on November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, and the United States government have agreed on to settle a lawsuit that accused the social network of engaging in discriminatory advertising for housing, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced on June 21. The settlement, which will have to be approved by a judge before it’s truly final, says that Meta will have to stop using a discriminatory algorithm for housing ads and instead develop a system that will “address racial and other disparities caused by its use of personalization algorithms in its ad delivery system.” In a statement on the same day, Meta announced that it will replace its Special Ad Audiences tool for housing, as well as credit and employment opportunities. The Silicon Valley giant plans on tackling this issue with machine learning, making a system that will “ensure the age, gender and estimated race or ethnicity of a housing ad’s overall audience matches the age, gender, and estimated race or ethnicity mix of the population eligible to see that ad.” Put simply, the proposed new system is supposed to make sure that the people actually seeing the ad are the audiences targeted by and eligible to see the ad. Meta will look at age, gender, and race to measure how far off the targeted audience is from the actual audience. As per the settlement, the company has to prove to the government that the system works as intended and build it into its platform, by the end of December 2022.…

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