Facebook Facing More Charges of Using Power for Evil
August 15, 2018
They may not be a real evil super force in some kind of alternate universe, but Facebook certainly holds enough power to be called a super force in ours. It seems that the social media giant is in hot water yet again in a law suit related to their privacy and advertising regulations. The Housing and Urban Development organization is taking a stand against Facebook, stating that the tech giant has been discriminating against who sees ads for housing.
The alleged discrimination appears to be related to who can see ads based on their gender, race, age, and level of disability. This could be directly related to income, and buying potential, which HUD says is limiting some consumers from finding affordable housing in their areas. Ben Carson, the secretary of the Housing and Urban Development organization has filed a complaint regarding the discrimination.
The Problem at Hand
Facebook’s social media platform allows buyers and sellers of all different merchandise and property to share information openly. While it appears that the site is sharing this information evenly across the board, HUD is suggesting that the social media site may not be fair in the way that this information is being distributed. Anna Maria Farias, the assistant secretary to HUD has piled her opinion on the mix of others from the company, explaining that this discrimination could limit the number of people who are denied or approved for housing based on their qualifying characteristics as governed by Facebook.
This is an issue because, of course, as we’ve learned following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook collects and files away tidbits of information on its users and uses that information for businesses and other entities to base their advertising and marketing tactics on. For example, a male in his early 20’s may not see ads for purses and jewelry, while a woman in her 40’s will get these marketing feeds on her Facebook page.
HUD equates these marketing tactics to “slamming a door” in the face of those who may be seeking these housing services but now won’t get them. This is, they feel, a direct violation of human rights and information sharing.
Facebook’s Opinion on the Matter
Facebook is getting rather good at disputing these privacy and information concerns as can be expected following the past few years they’ve had in negative media. The company has negated the idea that they are blocking ads to those who are deaf or immobile, or censoring ads based on other criteria, such as location by ZIP of Postal Code. Facebook has stated that they will work with HUD and other companies insinuating such censorships, but that they are not doing anything of the sort.
Facebook has made it clear that the decisions of what is and isn’t seen is made by the Facebook user. That some users request not to see certain ads, and this could impact the ads they see in the future. This preferential advertising method would, in fact, outweigh any other marketing tactics which are being hoisted on Facebook’s ad team.
Lawsuit From NFHA
Due to the issues Facebook is being accused of, the National Fare Housing Alliance, along with three other of their advocacy teams have filed a lawsuit on Facebook. Facebook is hoping to dismiss the suit, although at present it seems unsure whether the social media giant will be able to swing it. The United States attorney for NY’s southern district, Geoffrey Berman is saying that Facebook is in clear violation of targeting audiences for particular advertisements and marketing tactics, and that Facebook’s filing for dismissal should be denied.
There’s no telling just how far this law suit will go or whether Facebook will come out on top. With their track record of lawsuits this year and last, Facebook may find themselves struggling to keep themselves afloat when it comes to user numbers and their standing in the stock market. Is this suit founded or are companies now taking advantage of the negativity Facebook has seen? If the latter, it could mean more trouble on the horizon for the social media company.
What Could This Suit Mean For Facebook?
Public opinion of Facebook has been low over the past few months, and this new suit could cause more problems for the tech giant if they aren’t careful. At present, their public image is important to keeping the company afloat, as already many celebrities have pulled away from the site following the Cambridge Analytica issue. Privacy is a huge driving factor for many users, and knowing how Facebook has mismanaged this information in the past and may continue to do so in the future could cost them numbers.
On the other hand, Facebook is still thriving, and compared to other social media platforms, it continues to grow and make money hand over fist. While the stock falls of late could impact the outcome of quarterly and even yearly reports, the truth is, Facebook will probably be just fine in the coming months and years. If the company can get past this suit and any that follow, next year could pose a perfect opportunity for the company to turn things around and create some positive image structuring.
For more information on Facebook and its impending image crisis, continue to check back for news updates. You can also follow Facebook’s official feed for information and updates on policies and opinions from the company.