In a recent article in Realtor® Magazine, it was reported that Facebook had eliminated or changed the options it allowed a user to use when selecting advertising targets.

Apparently, some in the R.E. industry were taking advantage (?) of the opportunity that Facebook’s programming allowed in order to de-select certain persons from receiving the ads in the first place.

For instance, HUD said, Facebook allows advertisers to:

  • Display housing ads either only to men or only to women.
  • Not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in assistance dogs, mobility scooters, accessibility, or deaf culture.
  • Not show ads to users interested in child care or parenting, or show ads only to users with children above a specified age.
  • Not show ads to users 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 interested in Latin America, Canada, Southeast Asia, China, Honduras, or Somalia.
  • Draw a red line around ZIP codes and not show ads to users who live in those areas.

Those selections were discriminatory – or had the potential to be used to discriminate.

Hmmm.

Just like a gun can be used to murder, it isn’t the tool that commits the crime.  So I wonder why Facebook was the target here.  After all, it was the advertiser that selected who got the ads – so it was the advertiser that “discriminated.”  Wouldn’t Facebook have been able to ID those advertisers – rather than eliminate the categories?  After all, does this also mean that a company selling diapers must now also advertise to families with teenagers – and not “just” those with children under the age of three?