HUD Files Housing Discrimination Complaint Against Facebook

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just announced that they have filed a formal complaint against Facebook for violating the Federal Fair Housing Act by “allowing landlords and home sellers to use its advertising platform to engage in housing discrimination“.

Some of the ways HUD alleges that Facebook platform violates the Federal Fair Housing Act include:

  • display housing ads either only to men or women;
  • not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”;
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age;
  • to display/not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible.”
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia.”
  • draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes.

You can read the contents of the HUD complaint against Facebook here.

This is an example of why it is imperative that real estate agents, investors, landlords, and home sellers that choose to handle their own home sale know and understand the Federal Fair Housing Act including things that are prohibited under the Act.  It never ceases to amaze me how many FSBO’s (for sale by owners) feel they are exempt from all housing laws and regulations just because they are not a real estate agent.  I’m surprised as well by how many real estate agents really don’t fully understand it either and think things like what they do on Facebook is different than if done in a classified ad in a newspaper or just because a platform gives you the ability to do something (such as target just one sex) it makes it ok, which it obviously does not.

In any event, when it comes time to buy or sell real estate, I would encourage you to, first off, not try doing it on your own but use an agent, and then select an agent based upon he or she’s experience, qualifications and knowledge.  A good starting point is here – “How To Choose A Real Estate Agent“.


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