Fair Housing vs. Facebook Advertising – Update

Christian Swanson

GTMA Fair Housing Update

Facebook can’t seem to catch a break lately. On Friday HUD (Housing and Urban Development) filed a complaint against Facebook (again) with concerns over the possibility that housing industry advertisers could use Facebook’s targeting tools to violate provisions of the Fair Housing Act.

You can read the official press release from HUD here.

Facebook has already addressed these concerns.

Their official policy includes:

It is a violation of Facebook’s Advertising policies to discriminate based on the personal characteristics such as race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, family status, disability, medical or genetic condition. It may also violate federal, state, provincial, local, or other applicable laws in your area or the area in which the ads will be shown.

You can review Facebook’s policies here.

All GTMA Lead Generation Associates, Specialists, and Managers review and agree to abide by this policy during their onboarding and training. In addition to our Lead Generation team reviewing and agreeing to the Facebook Policy, ALL new hires are trained on fair housing laws and ordinances.

In fact, at our urging, Facebook recently set up an agency-level system-wide pre-approval program so our ads can be immediately published rather than being individually manually reviewed before going live.

So, how does this affect GTMA as a Facebook advertiser?

In short, it really doesn’t. The complaint references: “race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code” as all potential violations. Among the factors listed the only two things GTMA sometimes uses would be:

  1. Familial status where we might target parents of in-college or college-bound students for student housing or seniors and adult children of seniors for senior housing. And that’s not about excluding people, that’s simply about targeting the only people allowed to live in a specialized community.
  2. Zip code (really we’re more using distance-from-building radius targeting), where we recognize that most moves are local so we want to spend the majority of your very limited marketing dollars close to the building, to maximize your return.

We believe both of these targeting methods to be inclusive and non-discriminatory relative to all protected classes of people, appropriate in how and why they’re used, and absolutely not a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your GTMA account manager and we’ll be happy to provide more individual information about your GTMA campaigns.

Christian Swanson

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