Facebook announced in November last year that it would be making several changes to help prevent future cases of discrimination on its platform (e.g., it would stop advertisers from targeting users by race for ads that focused on housing, employment, and credit opportunities). Earlier this month, the company followed up with more updates to its ads policies and enforcement tools to further address the issue. In this regard, some key elements of the social network's recent update are as follows:

  • Advertising Policies Update: Facebook updated its policies to strengthen its existing prohibition against discrimination. The company makes it clear that advertisers may not discriminate against people based on personal attributes such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability,andmedical or genetic condition. 
  • Advertiser Education: Facebook created a new section linked from the Advertising Policies, which provides additional information about its anti-discrimination policy as well as educational resources from government agencies and civil rights groups that specialize in fighting discrimination.
  • Rigid Enforcement Tools: the company has also started testing a new technology that leverages machine learning to assist in identifying ads that offer housing, employment or credit opportunities. This will allow Facebook to provide notices and educational information to advertisers, as well as respond to violations of its policy faster. Specifically, Facebook made the following changes:
    • Disapproved Ads: Facebook will not approve ads offering housing, employment or credit opportunities and either include or exclude its multicultural advertising segments (which consist of persons interested in seeing content related to the African-American, Asian American and U.S. Hispanic communities).
    • Self-Certification: advertisers who are posting ads for housing, employment or credit opportunity, but are targeting other audience segments on Facebook, will also be prompted to certify that they are complying with the updated anti-discrimination policy and with applicable anti-discrimination laws.

We will be happy to provide further advice and recommendations concerning the required steps to ensure compliance with the applicable obligations and their scope.