Facebook Keeps Moving on Changes for Housing, Employment and Credit Ads

The social network updated deadlines coming up Feb. 11, March 31

Several changes take effect March 31 dikobraziy/iStock

Facebook detailed the next two deadlines that must be met by advertisers, developers or partners promoting housing, employment or credit opportunities.

The social network said in a blog post that by Feb. 11, all businesses that are located in the U.S. or targeting audiences in the U.S. must identify any ad campaigns belong to special ad categories that were created before Dec. 4, 2019.

Targeting settings for those campaigns must also be updated to comply with the social network’s advertising policies, or those ads will no longer be permitted on Facebook’s platform.

By March 31, all businesses that are located in the U.S. or targeting audiences in the U.S. and that are creating new ads offering housing, employment or credit opportunities must specify a special ad category and update their targeting settings to comply with the restrictions for special ad categories, or their ads will not be allowed to run.

Businesses creating ads that do not promote housing, employment or credit opportunities must select “none” in the special ad category field in order for their ads to run.

Finally, businesses creating ads that offer housing, employment or credit opportunities targeted outside of the U.S. must either choose a special ad category and proceed with the limited targeting options, or choose none. Ads with no designation will not be allowed on the platform.

The American Civil Liberties Union teamed up with Communications Workers of America and workers’ rights law firm Outten & Golden in September 2018 to file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Facebook and 10 companies that advertised jobs via its platform, claiming unlawful discrimination and saying the advertisers used the social network’s targeting capabilities to deliver their ads solely to male users.

In response, Facebook promised several changes in March 2019.

The social network said at the time that age, gender and ZIP code targeting would no longer be allowed on ads for housing, employment and credit; interest segments for ads in those categories were slashed from thousands to hundreds; and a new transparency tool was being built to provide information on all current housing ads being run in the U.S.

All of those measures did not stop the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from officially charging Facebook with discrimination later that month.

The EEOC reached a settlement with Facebook last March, and it issued a decision last September that seven U.S. companies violated federal law by using Facebook’s ad targeting capabilities to exclude women and older users from seeing job ads on the social network.

The social network said last August that advertisers, developers and partners must indicate when their ads promote housing, employment or credit by selecting a special ad category, which began rolling out in Ads Manager last July and was extended to the Marketing API (application-programming interface) last Sept. 16.

The company added at the time that all housing, employment or credit ads that had not implemented the special ad category flows by last Dec. 4 would be paused for non-compliance, and it began enforcing that rule on that date.

Clem Akomea-Agyin, who works on product for Facebook, wrote in the blog post, “Discrimination has no place on Facebook, and our advertising policies have long prohibited unlawful discrimination. As a result of historic settlement agreements with leading civil rights organizations, we introduced a new process last year for how advertisers based in the U.S., or targeting audiences in the U.S., can create ads that offer housing, employment or credit opportunities.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
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