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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

DOJ says court will oversee social media company’s housing ads into 2026

Federal Issues DOJ Enforcement Courts Discrimination Settlement Fair Housing Act Advertisement

Federal Issues

On January 9, the DOJ informed a New York federal judge that it had reached a follow-up agreement with a global social media company to ensure its compliance with a June 2022 settlement that required the company to stop using a tool that allowed advertisers to exclude certain users from seeing housing ads based on their sex and estimated race/ethnicity. Explaining that the tool violated the Fair Housing Act, the letter said the company agreed to allow the tool to expire and agreed to build a system to reduce variances in its housing ad delivery system related to sex and estimated race/ethnicity. A follow-up agreement reached between the parties on compliance targets established that the company will be subject to court oversight and regular compliance review through June 27, 2026. The company released a statement following the settlement announcing it is making changes “in part to address feedback we’ve heard from civil rights groups, policymakers and regulators about how our ad system delivers certain categories of personalized ads, especially when it comes to fairness.” The company further noted that “while HUD raised concerns about personalized housing ads specifically, we also plan to use this method for ads related to employment and credit. Discrimination in housing, employment and credit is a deep-rooted problem with a long history in the US, and we are committed to broadening opportunities for marginalized communities in these spaces and others.”