The United States Department of Justice has imposed a fine on Meta for using racist and discriminatory algorithms on Facebook, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The Menlo Park company blocked some users from seeing advertisements for homes for sale or for rent. Meta reached an agreement with the government, promising to change the way the algorithm works.
Fine for racist algorithms
Il Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of home on the basis of race, sex, religion, nationality, family status and disability. Meta develops the tool “Special Ad Audience“Which uses machine learning to identify Facebook users with the characteristics chosen by advertisers. Only these users can see listings on homes.
In addition to paying a fine of $ 115,054 (the maximum foreseen in case of violation of the law), the Menlo Park company will have to comply with several conditions. Starting from December 31, 2022, Meta will no longer have to use the Special Ad Audience tool. By this date, it will also have to develop a new non-discriminatory advertising system.
Compliance with the conditions will be verified by a third party organization. If Meta does not comply with the terms of the agreement, the Department of Justice will take the company to court. Any changes to the algorithms that may violate the Fair Housing Act must be notified in advance and approved.