Facebook rolled out a feature that allows advertisers to target users based on their race, reports Pro Publica.
With the tool, not only can an advertiser target a specific audience, they can also choose to exclude certain racial groups from seeing their ad.
Excluding people in housing and employment based on gender, race, and other sensitive factors is illegal per federal law.
Pro Publica actually bought an ad to show they could exclude certain races from seeing it.
Many on Twitter are surprised no one at the company raised any objections to the feature.
When Pro Publica showed this feature to civil rights lawyer John Relman, he said, "This is horrifying. This is massively illegal. This is about as blatant a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act as one can find."
Facebook's business model is based on allowing advertisers to take advantage of the data that Facebook collects about its users. And Facebook defended the feature by saying its important for advertisers to be able to test their marketing by targeting specific groups of people.
"We take a strong stand against advertisers misusing our platform: Our policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate, and they require compliance with the law," said Steve Satterfield, privacy and public policy manager at Facebook.
"We take prompt enforcement action when we determine that ads violate our policies.
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