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In one of the most surprising HUD press releases of the year to date, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced it will bring charges of Fair Housing Act violations against the media giant Facebook.

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HUD Charges Facebook With Fair Housing Act Violations

HUD Charges Facebook With Fair Housing Act Violations
April 23, 2019 - In one of the most surprising HUD press releases of the year to date, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced it will bring charges of Fair Housing Act violations against the media giant Facebook.

According to a press release issued on the HUD official site, it is alleged that Facebook violated Fair Housing laws by targeting specific users based on race, family status, and other means that are outlawed under the Fair Housing Act.

The official HUD complaint includes the following:
“On August 13, 2018, the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (“Assistant Secretary”) filed a timely complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD” or the “Department”) alleging that Respondent violated subsections 804(a), 804(b), 804(c) and 804(f) of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19 (“Act”), by discriminating because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability.”

Later in the complaint, we read, “It is unlawful to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published, any notice, statement, or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin or disability, or that indicates an intention to make such a distinction.”

Why was this a major issue?

If Facebook, as alleged by HUD, is shown to have ”enabled advertisers to exclude people whom Facebook classified as parents; non-American-born; non-Christian; interested in accessibility; interested in Hispanic culture; or a wide variety of other interests that closely align with the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes” that would be a clear violation of the rules mentioned above.
Sometimes the victims of housing discrimination are the only ones who know it happened outside the guilty parties responsible for the discrimination. In this case instead of a victim informing HUD, it was the agency itself initiating the complaint.

The case against Facedbook will be heard before an Administrative Law Judge unless Facebook or the government later chooses to have the case heard in federal district court. If the judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages for harm caused by the discrimination according to the HUD press release.

If you believe you have experienced discrimination in the housing process, you can file a complaint by contacting the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).

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