The Trump administration is going after Facebook for allegedly engaging in housing discrimination.
On Friday, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson filed a lawsuit against Facebook, accusing the tech giant of discrimination for allowing "landlords and home sellers access to advertising tools that limit which prospective buyers or tenants can view certain online ads based on race, religion, sex, disability and other characteristics," reports NPR.
Anna María Farías, serving as HUD's assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, blasted Facebook for the alleged discrimination. "The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse," said Farías, adding, "When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it's the same as slamming the door in someone's face."
Data collected by Facebook on users who had interests in "mobility scooter" or "deaf culture" was allowed to be used by advertisers who filtered out such users. Additionally, users interested in "child care" or "parenting" were also allowed to be filtered out from seeing ads.
In April, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and three other member organizations similarly filed suit against Facebook for allegedly enabling housing discrimination.
Facebook attempted to have the case dismissed, but was denied.
"The categorizing of Facebook users based on protected characteristics, and the mechanism that Facebook offers advertisers to target those segments of the potential audience, violate the FHA [Fair Housing Act]. Facebook's motion should therefore be denied," said Geoffrey Berman, serving as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Facebook intends to work with HUD to fix the issues at hand, a spokesperson told NPR.
On Saturday, the president voiced his discontent over the mounting censorship of conservative voices on social media, signaled potential action from the administration to stop it. "Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices," Trump wrote in a string of tweets. "Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen."
Countless reports and studies have shown that politically conservative and pro-life messages have been censored by major tech companies in some fashion, such as so-called shadow banning, burying conservative news via "algorithm changes," and outright bans.
"Censorship is a very dangerous thing & absolutely impossible to police," he said, adding, "Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!"