When ProPublica revealed that Facebook allowed advertisers to target or exclude users by their “ethnic affinity,” the social network at first doubled down on defending the practice.
“We are committed to providing people with quality ad experiences, which includes helping people see messages that are both relevant to the cultural communities they are interested in and have content that reflects or represents their communities,” Facebook said at the time.
But the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and other advocacy groups were already questioning the legality of the advertising offering long before the public became aware. Conversations surrounding the use of the feature began last spring, advocates said. Facebook was sued over the feature last week.
“There’s always been a market for discrimination in this country,” Coty Montag, deputy director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, told Mashable. “We were concerned that ethnic affinity marketing could violate civil rights acts.”
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