“HUD will always be a force for fairness,” said Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Benjamin Carson in an opinion piece submitted to the Washington Post. Secretary Carson wrote the Washington Post in response to an article discussing Carson’s decision to level a complaint against Facebook for “encouraging, enabling, and causing” unlawful discrimination through its targeted advertising system.
“The April 1 editorial ‘Mr. Carson’s curious move’ was both right and wrong at the same time,” said Carson.
“The editorial claimed that HUD is attempting to 'unravel' Obama-era fair housing rules. It is not,” Carson continued. “The editorial asserted that HUD is removing the words “inclusive” and “free from discrimination” from the agency’s mission. It is not. The editorial suggested my past statements on the role of government in our public life indicate a lack of commitment to fairness. They do not. HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities that are free from discrimination.”
According to Secretary Carson, housing discrimination is a real problem in the U.S, one that HUD is seeking to address.
“The day I announced the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s discrimination charge against Facebook, I said, ‘Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.’ I meant those words,” Secretary Carson told the Washington Post. ‘The editorial’s skepticism was based on some imaginary belief that I and the federal agency I lead seem “more interested in dismantling housing protections than ensuring they are respected.’ Those apprehensions were built on sand.”
HUD claims Facebook enables advertisers to control which users receive housing-related ads based upon the recipient’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or ZIP code. Additionally, the claim alleges that Facebook then invites advertisers to express unlawful preferences by offering discriminatory options, allowing them to effectively limit housing options for these protected classes under the guise of "targeted advertising."
“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in his announcement.
Secretary Carson’s letter to the Washington Post can be found here.