Facebook reportedly allows advertisers to exclude racial groups in housing ads

- Facebook advertisers can now exclude racial and ethnic groups when creating a housing ad on the social media site, according to a report from ProPublica.

The feature, called “ethnic affinities," lets advertisers exclude certain groups of Facebook users. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, people are prohibited from discriminating based on race, gender, religion and other factors.

ProPublica created an ad aimed at house hunters and got it approved in 15 minutes despite excluding African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics. Facebook declined to comment to the site about its approval.

When ProPublica told prominent civil rights lawyer John Relman about the feature, he called it "horrifying" and "massively illegal."

"This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find," Relman said.

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