Changes to Housing, Employment and Credit Ads on Facebook Go Into Effect Wednesday

Advertisers must indicate special categories, as initially revealed earlier this year

Facebook provided an update on its efforts to prevent usage of its platform for discrimination in ads for housing, employment or credit.

The social network said in August that advertisers, developers and partners must indicate when their ads promote housing, employment or credit by selecting a special ad category, which began rolling out in Ads Manager in July and was extended to the Marketing API (application-programming interface) Sept. 16.

The company added at the time that all housing, employment or credit ads that had not implemented the special ad category flows by Dec. 4 may be paused for non-compliance.

Facebook said in a blog post Tuesday that enforcement will begin Wednesday across all of the tools businesses use to buy ads, including Ads Manager, Instagram Promote, the Marketing API and ads created from pages.

Also starting Wednesday, the social network’s Ad Library will contain a new housing ad section, providing details on all active housing opportunity ads targeted to U.S. users that began running or were edited after Wednesday.

This information can be searched by page name or the city or state to which the ads are targeted.

Facebook said ads that offer employment or credit opportunities will be added to Ad Library next year.

The American Civil Liberties Union teamed up with Communications Workers of America and workers’ rights law firm Outten & Golden in September 2018 to file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Facebook and 10 companies that advertised jobs via its platform, claiming unlawful discrimination and saying the advertisers used the social network’s targeting capabilities to deliver their ads solely to male users.

In response, Facebook promised several changes in March.

The social network said at the time that age, gender and ZIP code targeting would no longer be allowed on ads for housing, employment and credit; interest segments for ads in those categories were slashed from thousands to hundreds; and a new transparency tool was being built to provide information on all current housing ads being run in the U.S.

All of those measures did not stop the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from officially charging Facebook with discrimination later that month.

The EEOC reached a settlement with Facebook in March, and it issued a decision in September that seven U.S. companies violated federal law by using Facebook’s ad targeting capabilities to exclude women and older users from seeing job ads on the social network.