Facebook has signed a legally-binding agreement with Washington state, claiming it will stop discriminatory advertisement targeting — which involved excluding categories like race, ethnicity, and religion, according to a report.
“Facebook confirmed the agreement with the state, and said the announcement is part of a long process to ensure that tools used to target ads on the social network are safe, civil, and fair,” reported Reuters, who added that the “agreement with Washington state requires Facebook to make the changes to its ad platform within 90 days.”
In a statement, the social media giant claimed, “We’ve removed thousands of categories related to potentially sensitive personal attributes — like race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion — from our exclusion targeting tools.”
The exclusion tools allow advertisers to exclude categories of Facebook users from ads, for example, a company that does business in Washington state may want to exclude users living in Florida from seeing its ads. Facebook previously was also offering exclusions of “protected classes” like racial groups, leading to the legal action by Washington state.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson had called Facebook’s advertisement targeting “unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, sexual orientation, disability, and religion.”
Last year, a report claimed companies, including Facebook itself, were using the platform to specifically exclude older users from job advertisements.
Facebook, Verizon, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Target, Ikea, Rent-A-Car, and the University of Maryland Medical System were all accused of using such practices, which was described as “blatantly unlawful” by an employment lawyer.
At the time, however, Facebook disagreed, arguing it was “an accepted industry practice,” to exclude older users through targeted advertisements.
There were also cases of advertisement targeting based on race.