Facebook axes alleged discriminatory targeting of ads after civil settlements

After coming under fire for allowing housing and jobs ads to target users based on factors like gender and age, Facebook is removing several ad-targeting categories that civil rights organizations called discriminatory. The changes, shared on Tuesday, March 19, come as part of a settlement with the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Communication Workers of America (CWA).

Advertisers running ads in categories for housing, employment, and credit will no longer have targeting options for age, gender, or zip code. Facebook previously removed the categories for race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion from those same categories.

Inside those categories, Facebook says advertisers will have fewer targeting options than ads that don’t fall under the same categories. Detailed targeting which can allow advertisers to target ads based on user-added interests, will also be unavailable.

In addition to the new limits, Facebook says it is building a tool that will allow users to view housing ads in the U.S. no matter what targeting options were used.

“Housing, employment, and credit ads are crucial to helping people buy new homes, start great careers, and gain access to credit,” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer, wrote in a blog post. “They should never be used to exclude or harm people. Getting this right is deeply important to me and all of us at Facebook because inclusivity is a core value for our company.”

The network says it is continuing to work with civil rights groups, experts, and policymakers to continue to build a more inclusive platform.

A ProPublica investigative report from 2017 helped spark this litigation after the report suggested employers could target ads based on age. At the time, Facebook said the age targeting was not discriminatory and likened the option to publishing job ads in magazines geared toward specific age groups.

Last year, Facebook removed more than 5,000 ad targeting categories after a complaint by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development called targeting for housing ads discriminatory. At the time, Facebook created a new requirement for advertisers to agree to a non-discrimination policy. U.S. law prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability.”


A new bill could outlaw loot boxes in video games. Here’s what it says

Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri is making noise with his newly proposed bill that aims to tackle pay-to-win micro-transactions and loot boxes in video games played by kids. But what would the bill do, exactly?

Adventure Academy is an MMO for kids that combines learning with fun

Age of Learning’s follow-up to ABCmouse is an educational MMO called Adventure Academy. Targeted at kids ages 8-13, Adventure Academy has a comprehensive curriculum and all of the rewarding trappings of a modern MMO.

The world can be your oyster with a little help from the best travel apps around

Traveling doesn't need to be a time-consuming nuisance. Our handpicked selection of the best travel apps will keep things simple, whether you need cost comparisons for hotels or directions to renowned eateries.

Looking for love or just some fun? Cozy up with the best dating apps of 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.
Social Media

Instagram ditches plans for stand-alone Direct messaging app

Instagram is shuttering it's stand-alone messaging app, Direct, after testing it since 2017. While the messaging features remain intact inside Instagram, the separate app will be discontinued in the next few weeks.
Social Media

6 easy ways to archive all of your favorite Instagram videos

Saving Instagram videos should be just as easy as taking a screenshot. So, we've put together a list of the best apps and tools that save your favorite Instagram videos onto your phone or computer.
Social Media

Instagram’s new Explore grid tempts you to open your wallet

Instagram has made some changes to its Explore tab that might tempt you into the occasional shopping spree. It's also planning to add Stories to the grid, mixing them up with the existing photos and videos.
Social Media

Be the master of your own Insta-verse with multiple Instagram accounts

Whether you own a small business or have separate Instagram accounts for your five cats, we'll walk you through the process of switching between your multiple accounts on your Apple or Android devices.
Social Media

A fond farewell to Grumpy Cat, the internet’s most famous feline

We say farewell and fondly remember Grumpy Cat, the internet's famous frowning feline and a genuine sweetheart, who died at the age of seven. Even tempered and tolerant, Grumpy Cat was in real life the opposite of her online persona.

Treat your selfie with one of these 13 apps made to beautify your pics

Selfies might be a phenomenon second only to karaoke, but they're not the easiest thing in the world to create. Thankfully, these awesome selfie apps for Android and iOS will make beautifying your self-portraits easier than capturing them.

Creators of WhatsApp attack software face lawsuit from Amnesty International

This week a spyware attack was launched on WhatsApp. Now the Israeli firm linked to that attack is facing a lawsuit from human rights NGO Amnesty International, alleging their software has been used to surveil human rights defenders.

New York could dish out fines for texting while crossing the street

Do you text on your phone while crossing the street? The dangers of stepping out in front of a car or bus are obvious, but in New York, offenders could soon face a fine of as much as $250, too.
Social Media

Help wanted: British royal family seeks social media wiz to run its accounts

The British royal family is looking for a social media expert to help it communicate its role and activities to the masses. So if you like the idea of having the Queen as your boss, why not throw your hat in the ring?
Social Media

Millions of Instagram influencers reportedly had private data exposed online

As many as 49 million Instagram influencers have reportedly had their private data exposed in an online database that had no password protection. The database was apparently created by a marketing firm and has been taken offline.