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Does Facebook Allow Advertisers to Discriminate?

The next time you check your Facebook page, notice the ads.

The social media giant allows advertisers to exclude certain ethnic groups from seeing an ad on their page, ProPublica first reported.

When you open the page to create an ad you can choose a target audience, but you can also choose groups to exclude based on so-called ethnic affinity. It even shows you how many millions of users wouldn't see the ad.

“I’m very much concerned about anything that's exclusionary in our society especially in today's climate,” said Rev. Jethro Moore II, president of the NAACP San Jose/Silicon Valley chapter.

Targeted marketing is not illegal. However, if the advertiser uses the Facebook tool to exclude ethnic groups from housing listings or employment opportunities, attorneys say it would be illegal.

“I don't think on its face Facebook’s policy is invalid,” said attorney Rodney Moore. “I think it creates a great risk for the marketplace and a great potential legal liability for Facebook if it in fact is used inappropriately."

Christian Martinez, who heads U.S. multicultural sales at Facebook, took to the company's business page on Friday, and referenced concerns over housing and employment discrimination.

He wrote: “Our ad policies strictly prohibit this kind of advertising, and it’s against the law. If we learn of advertising on our platform that involves this kind of discrimination, we will take aggressive enforcement action."

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