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Subject: And the Facebook hits just keep on coming... rss

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Mac Mcleod
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https://tech.slashdot.org/story/18/03/27/1840254/facebook-is...

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The National Fair Housing Alliance, along with three other nonprofit housing advocacy organizations around the country, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook over its alleged discriminatory advertisements. From a report:
The nonprofits, over the last few months, created a fake real estate company and used the Facebook ad platform to place housing ads. According to the lawsuit, the NFHA was able to place advertisements that "[excluded] families with children and women from receiving advertisements, as well as users with interests based on disability and national origin." In the NFHA's press release, the organization writes that "Facebook's advertising platform enables landlords and real estate brokers to exclude families with children, women, and other protected classes of people from receiving housing ads."

The lawsuit follows extensive reporting from ProPublica that investigated these potentially discriminatory practices. For over a year, the journalism outlet tested various ways that landlords could place ads for housing, and found that the targeting allowed for many people to be kept out of the loop. Given Facebook's massive user base of over 2 billion users, the group believes that the social network is in violation of the Fair Housing Act.



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Trent Boardgamer
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Interesting, but as much as I'm not a fan of facebook, I really think this is a bit of a stretch. I'm not quite sure how you can claim targeted marketing shouldn't let you target your market (Which in essence means excluding everyone that's not in that target range).

In my opinion it's actually the organisations posting the ads that were discriminating, not facebook, simply by allowing a user to target or not target demographics they don't want. Not that I even agree this is discrimination in the first instance.

If I'm advertising my 12 floor 1 bedroom apartment with only stair access to the door, is it strange I'd want to be able to exclude women with children, wheelchair bound people or people that don't speak English from my advertising?

Even if you advertised to these people, you likely wouldn't rent the place to them anyway, because it's unsuitable and would then just be stuck having to do multiple interviews to decline them or them decline you anyway. My understanding of targeted marketing with facebook as well, is that you get charged on a per-ad basis, so why would I want to send those ads to low suitability 'customers' (Yer lets make me waste extra time with interviews and have to pay for the privilege in the first instance)

If we really start making this discrimination it will be a bad direction to head in. I really don't want to get baby diaper and car seat ads just to make sure I don't feel discriminated against.
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Christopher Dearlove
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Bearhug78 wrote:


Interesting, but as much as I'm not a fan of facebook, I really think this is a bit of a stretch. I'm not quite sure how you can claim targeted marketing shouldn't let you target your market (Which in essence means excluding everyone that's not in that target range).

In my opinion it's actually the organisations posting the ads that were discriminating, not facebook, simply by allowing a user to target or not target demographics they don't want. Not that I even agree this is discrimination in the first instance.

If I'm advertising my 12 floor 1 bedroom apartment with only stair access to the door, is it strange I'd want to be able to exclude women with children, wheelchair bound people or people from ethnic backgrounds that may clash with say my Taiwanese neighbours (i.e. Chinese nationalist)?


The wheelchair bound will exclude themselves. I note it's women with children you want to bar, what about men or couples? Is it up to you to bar them? But barring the Chinese person would absolutely be illegal here.

Quote:
Even if you advertised to these people, you likely wouldn't rent the place to them anyway, because it's unsuitable and would then just be stuck having to do multiple interviews to decline them anyway. My understanding of targeted marketing with facebook as well, is that you get charged on a per-ad basis, so why would I want to send those ads to low suitability 'customers' (Yer lets make me waste extra time with interviews and have to pay for the privilege in the first instance)

If we really start making this discrimination it will be a bad direction to head in. I really don't want to get baby diaper and car seat ads just to make sure I don't feel discriminated against.
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Mac Mcleod
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It's been illegal since 1968. With some hefty fines too.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/renters-r...

A landlord is legally free to set whatever conditions he wants for a tenancy as long as they are reasonably related to his business needs and don’t violate antidiscrimination laws. The Federal Fair Housing Acts (42 U.S. Code § § 3601-3619) prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, familial status (having children), and physical or mental disability (including alcoholism and past drug addiction). In addition, many states and cities also prohibit discrimination based on marital status, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

A landlord may reject you for poor credit history, income that a reasonable businessperson would deem insufficient to pay the rent, negative references from a previous landlord or employer, a criminal conviction, or a prior eviction lawsuit (even one that you won). As long as they don’t discriminate, landlords can basically choose whomever they want. For example, a landlord can refuse to rent to smokers or disallow pets because smokers (and pet owners) as a group are not protected by antidiscrimination laws.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/housing-discriminati...

Quote:
Penalties for Housing Discrimination

A court or housing agency that finds that discrimination has taken place may order you to do one or more of the following:

rent the particular rental to the person who has brought the discrimination charge
pay “actual” damages to an applicant you illegally rejected, such as additional rent the tenant had to pay elsewhere as a result of being turned down for your rental
pay “compensating” damages, such as for the tenant’s humiliation or emotional distress, and/or
pay a civil penalty to the state federal government ($16,000 for the first violation alone).

For especially outrageous discrimination, you may have to pay punitive damages of thousands of dollars, plus the tenant’s attorney fees.


Bearhug, at a minimum... if you really do have rental property you should delete your post. I intentionally didn't quote it.
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Xander Fulton
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I guess the real question is - is it really 'discriminating' against someone to not plaster them with ads?

If so, I...uhhh...volunteer to be so discriminated against? PLEASE???
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Jamie Hankins
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I'm generally in favour of targeted adds (seems better than being shown adds that aren't relevant to my interests or life). However, if you're using targeted advertising to circumvent anti-discrimination laws, then that does seem like a problem.
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Trent Boardgamer
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The wheelchair bound will exclude themselves. I note it's women with children you want to bar, what about men or couples? Is it up to you to bar them? But barring the Chinese person would absolutely be illegal here.


My example is clearly worded poorly, when I said exclude I meant exclude them from my advertising specifics, as they likely wouldn't be suitable to the premises in the first instance. Not outright refuse them to be able to rent the place because of who they are.

For the apartment, I wouldn't be distributing ads through the disabled support magazine for instance. (I believe there are requirements for having disability access in most apartment buildings, so this is an annoying one and could require modification of the building), but that aside I would imagine they wouldn't be interested in a 12th floor with poor access.

I'm not wanting to bar women with children, I'm assessing that a one bedroom apartment is unsuitable for a women with children. As such I'm not going to advertise in day care centres. Not to mention there are occupancy restrictions in place, which do dictate how many people can legally stay per bedroom.

If you were refusing the Chinese people here for being Chinese it's 100% illegal as well, and really not a great example, but not what I meant anyway (I did say Chinese nationalist to imply some issues). They are somewhat excluded by me not putting my ad in Chinese in the first instance or not having an interpreter etc and likely don't have an Australia rental reference history.

My examples may have not been the best, because you can make an argument for them being discrimination if the purpose is to prevent access to those people because of who they are versus they just wouldn't be suitable to my apartment in the first place (Which is really what the claim against facebook advertising allowing this is claiming), but there is nothing that legally stops you from advertising now, in only select papers/magazines that cater to certain groups, only posting vacancy notices in specific suburbs, which ultimately is with the purpose of only targeting those you want applying due to efficiency.

It's not unusual here to have rental groups that specifically only rent to the military or nurses. Or groups that specifically only rent to Corporate executives etc. We also have arrangements that only rent to government assistant tenants etc. Under these claims they would be guilty of discrimination as well (Yet most of them are Government programs).



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Christopher Dearlove
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XanderF wrote:
I guess the real question is - is it really 'discriminating' against someone to not plaster them with ads?


The real problem is that Facebook enables discrimination. It's a reported problem that adverts for high paying jobs don't get served as well to women because Facebook makes more money from things like cosmetics ads.
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Josh
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Trent: Targeted marketing is normally slightly different than what facebook is doing. If I out my ad for a new model v12 deisel twin stack dickerizer 2000 truck in the latest issue of Guns and Ammo I may be targeting my audience, but at the same time anyone who does pick up the magazine has the opportunity to see the ad. Imagine if certain pages went blank if a woman or minority were to pick up the magazine and try to read it.

It's been weaponized too for political gain. Buy ads claiming Clinton runs a child prostitution ring and target certain grouos. Have them see the ad again and agwin, reinforcing 'truth through repetition' which normally is supposed to help build group consensus but in this case simply repeats one small faction's message as much as their money will allow.

Not only are you hurting the group that is targeted in such an instance, you hurt society in general because it can't respond or even know the extent of the problem, the targeting excludes it from the discussion until after the fact.
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Michael Carter
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Isn’t this an internet advertising thing rather than a Facebook thing? What makes Facebook’s targeted ads different from Google’s? This could have significant repercussions.
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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mlcarter815 wrote:
Isn’t this an internet advertising thing rather than a Facebook thing? What makes Facebook’s targeted ads different from Google’s? This could have significant repercussions.
I think you are spot on with Google, but the Internet in general may not have access to the same in-depth demographic information that Facebook and Google mine.
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Michael Carter
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TheChin! wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:
Isn’t this an internet advertising thing rather than a Facebook thing? What makes Facebook’s targeted ads different from Google’s? This could have significant repercussions.
I think you are spot on with Google, but the Internet in general may not have access to the same in-depth demographic information that Facebook and Google mine.


Facebook is siloed, but most sites use Google, Yahoo, or Bing for the advertising revenue on the sites. If Google, etc can’t do targeted ads anymore, advertisers will want to pay them less and that will trickle down to the sites getting even less ad revenue.
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Chengkai Yang
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mlcarter815 wrote:
Isn’t this an internet advertising thing rather than a Facebook thing? What makes Facebook’s targeted ads different from Google’s? This could have significant repercussions.


The log in method of actually getting anything reasonable out of facebook requires a login. Google's targeted specifics are much broader as families can share a PC and the fact that no login is required. Plus chrome and other browsers have options to clear caches per session.

That kinda precludes pin point ads and more tangential ads based on keyword search. FB is almost akin to pinterest if your not logged in from my experiences.
 
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Mike Stiles
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To repeat others, the problem here is that this suit goes at the very underpinning of how internet advertising works.
 
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Mac Mcleod
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Saw a poll that indicated Tech workers are increasingly resistant to Facebook.

Read that their market capitalization was down 75 billion. It could be a dead cat bounce opportunity.
 
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Michael Carter
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draxx01 wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:
Isn’t this an internet advertising thing rather than a Facebook thing? What makes Facebook’s targeted ads different from Google’s? This could have significant repercussions.


The log in method of actually getting anything reasonable out of facebook requires a login. Google's targeted specifics are much broader as families can share a PC and the fact that no login is required. Plus chrome and other browsers have options to clear caches per session.

That kinda precludes pin point ads and more tangential ads based on keyword search. FB is almost akin to pinterest if your not logged in from my experiences.


The legal system often acts broadly when it comes to technology.
 
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I don't see a problem. Anti-discrimination laws say that I can't refuse a tenant, not that I can't choose who to advertise to. If the ad included discriminatory statements, that would be different, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Reaching the target market is the whole point of advertising.
 
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Mac Mcleod
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Well first, is it another way that Facebook can piss off 2/3 of its product... er.. users.. who have experienced this kind of discrimination.

Anyone who has been discriminated against on any of the basis listed above is in that class of users.

And second I see legal exposure If a landlord is successfully sued and then countersues Facebook.

I also see legal exposure to Facebook for assisting someone else in committing a crime.

Facebook is marketed to the mass Market. It would be different if it was a men's site.

So while it may not bother you guys, the first thing one of you talked about was blatantly illegal and subject up to $16,000 fines.

If I were a user in one of the classes discriminated it gives me one more reason to stop using Facebook.

So if I were running Facebook, I would be worried that I might start shedding users and income and future profits. And if I were an investor thinking of buying Facebook there is now yet another over future earnings.

Even if it doesn't bother you guys personally, I hope you can see how it might bother a lot of other people a great deal.

At this point, Facebook could be a MySpace walking.
 
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Chengkai Yang
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mlcarter815 wrote:
draxx01 wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:
Isn’t this an internet advertising thing rather than a Facebook thing? What makes Facebook’s targeted ads different from Google’s? This could have significant repercussions.


The log in method of actually getting anything reasonable out of facebook requires a login. Google's targeted specifics are much broader as families can share a PC and the fact that no login is required. Plus chrome and other browsers have options to clear caches per session.

That kinda precludes pin point ads and more tangential ads based on keyword search. FB is almost akin to pinterest if your not logged in from my experiences.


The legal system often acts broadly when it comes to technology.


Sadly it also has a terrible understanding of how it works half the time. The issue with a lot of it is the fast pace that shit gets iterated through. It's not like laws, I can't just crank out 20 versions, compile and test in parallel, and see what sticks, and have a tweaked version out by lunch. Hardware development is also accelerating last I saw thanks to 3d printing. Stuff like Alexa/Nesst, IoT, the fact the majority of the internet is on AWS and reliance on route 53...

I'm still waiting for the grand unveil that we get a full picture and that it's the icloud sitting on gcp sitting on azure thats sitting on AWS. Given the job postings from Amazon, it'll be AWS powering .gov, .mil, and alexa using prime 2day to deliver the t-1000 to sites remotely by drone. Just pay extra for Prime Now and watch the fun on Twitch Prime where only subs get to watch VODs and comment. Plus you get access to 30+ government emotes.

For all the data that FB collects, the entirety of the information and power of FAANG companies is vastly underrated. Especially if they share it amongst themselves. There's actually some research on next level cookies to track you across platforms & sites through http get requests or lack thereof. TBH I think Big Data has changed the world far more than the atom bomb, most people just haven't realized how yet.
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Trent Boardgamer
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Shadrach wrote:
Trent: Targeted marketing is normally slightly different than what facebook is doing. If I out my ad for a new model v12 deisel twin stack dickerizer 2000 truck in the latest issue of Guns and Ammo I may be targeting my audience, but at the same time anyone who does pick up the magazine has the opportunity to see the ad. Imagine if certain pages went blank if a woman or minority were to pick up the magazine and try to read it.

It's been weaponized too for political gain. Buy ads claiming Clinton runs a child prostitution ring and target certain grouos. Have them see the ad again and agwin, reinforcing 'truth through repetition' which normally is supposed to help build group consensus but in this case simply repeats one small faction's message as much as their money will allow.

Not only are you hurting the group that is targeted in such an instance, you hurt society in general because it can't respond or even know the extent of the problem, the targeting excludes it from the discussion until after the fact.


Interesting point.

I still don’t think we should ban or interfere with targeted advertising however, as I see a simple solution as being just ensuring people are able to find those ads online by searching for them.

On the other side of things most services with targeted advertising allow for a cost to be able to turn off or block ads. Given ad revenue funds a lot of sites, such as YouTube for instance it would seem backwards to disable ads without some level of compensation if you choose to use their product.

I’d agree if ads were only even viewable by select people it could be problematic.

From my experience though I’ve never had issues accessing online ads, others have told me to check out simply by googling for them. I’m unaware if there are currently any ads no one can locate online if they wanted to.
 
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Carl Parsons
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I find it amazing that people get all bothered about this. Most of the time I see people complaining that they are getting ads at all, not necessarily what kind of ads they are getting. As for that, I'm a big fan of targeted ads. When I do want to see ads I'm glad they are geared towards me and what I might be interested in. I've been parts of groups that have advertised on FB and the ability to determine who the ads went to was the most effective part of the ad campaign. Without that the ads were basically worthless.
 
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Ken
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maxo-texas wrote:


I don't see how this is Facebook's problem from a landlord perspective. They provide an advertising platform that can be used to discriminate, but that doesn't mean that they're discriminating in renting or home sales. A landlord that uses the platform to targeting ads using these setting could be guilty of discriminating, but that might actually require changes to the discrimination law. The law doesn't specify how landlords/firms advertise, but their practices when people respond to those ads.

This could easily be a demonstration of an area where new regulation is required. Advertising always allowed the advertiser to target particular demographics - if they advertise in this paper or those billboards or that television program, they reach a different audience than they would if you changed those decisions. But internet ad platforms allow much finer targeting. So an advertiser can dramatically reduce the possibility that their ads are even seen by people they would consider to be "undesirable."

That will only get worse - as more and more content moving to IP-enabled platforms, serving up micro-targeted ads as a part of regular television broadcasts or during on-demand style viewing. Hulu, for example, can provide a lot of targeting and they serve up ads as a part of their basic package. DirecTV is moving to providing online content in addition to/instead of satellite.

What you may be seeing is the first round of issues that result in regulation around ad platforms to prevent them from permitting discriminatory behavior. But I would doubt that existing law actually provides a cause of action against Facebook or Google. They simply aren't landlords and they aren't doing anything discriminatory themselves (well, at least not here).

Maybe we'll start seeing some actual movement on privacy rights...
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Derry Salewski
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All ads are like this . . .

Is there actually some provision in the housing laws about equal opportunities to view advertisements? Seems like they're just trying to make a pretty naive, boring point.

It seems like spamming people with ads for housing wouldn't even work that well anyway. People who want it tend to have access to resources to find it pretty well on their own.
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Jamie Hankins
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batman wrote:
I find it amazing that people get all bothered about this. Most of the time I see people complaining that they are getting ads at all, not necessarily what kind of ads they are getting. As for that, I'm a big fan of targeted ads. When I do want to see ads I'm glad they are geared towards me and what I might be interested in. I've been parts of groups that have advertised on FB and the ability to determine who the ads went to was the most effective part of the ad campaign. Without that the ads were basically worthless.


I'm usually entirely on board with this thinking; targeting adds usually just means that there's some attempt to make the adverts relevant to my interests and that's good. If facebook discovers that I like board games and decides to advertise board games to me, that's all fine.

Using targeted adverts so as to avoid attracting the wrong kind of people to your rental property or job vacancy is different though and it's easy to see how that can amount to a form of harmful discrimination.
 
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Mac Mcleod
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https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/08/facebook-updates-its-ad-po...

Facebook "vowed" to stop doing this back in early february.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-27/facebook-...

Facebook has apparently said it would stop this practice before too.

The lawsuits have resulted because Facebook didn't stop.

Probably will take it a while to play out in court so periodic news of facebook in a lawsuit for providing merchants discriminating against facebook using disabled veterans and women with children for jobs, housing, and access to credit.

Probably will not enhance Facebook's image.
 
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