Facebook users in Michigan and throughout the country are supposed to have equal access to see housing ads on the site. However, a lawsuit claims that it is still possible to exclude individuals based on gender or if they have kids. It also claims that it is possible for ads to not be shown to individuals based on their national origin or because they are disabled.
An October 2016 report from ProPublica highlighted the ability to only show ads to white people, which would be against the law. Facebook responded by saying that it would change its policies regarding ads related to housing, employment and credit. However, ProPublica said that such changes had not been made as it could exclude people based on their skin color or religion. The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in New York City, and one of the plaintiffs is the Fair Housing Justice Center, which is based in New York City.
It and similar groups decided to file a lawsuit after sending multiple ads to Facebook that discriminated against various groups of people. They claim that the ads were approved in about an hour, and that approving these ads makes it harder for underserved groups to buy or rent housing that meets their needs and budgets.
A refusal to sell or rent to an individual based on that person’s gender, race or national origin is generally illegal. The same is generally true if a landlord or homeowner refuses to rent or sell a property to a parent or guardian of a child. Those who believe that they have been discriminated against might want to discuss their situation with legal counsel.