Facebook is in trouble with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for what the department says are discriminatory ad targeting practices. For years, advertisers were allowed by Facebook to target (or avoid targeting) protected groups, like minorities and specific gender identities. But in a new paper, a team of researchers says that Facebook's ad delivery algorithm is inherently biased even when advertisers are trying to reach a large, inclusive audience.
The paper [...] claims that Facebook's ad delivery algorithm is "skewed" to send housing and employment ads to specific demographic groups. Facebook believes that certain jobs, for example, are largely only "relevant" to white men, while others are delivered largely to black women, even when the advertiser is trying to target large, inclusive groups.
"We demonstrate that skewed [ad] delivery occurs on Facebook, due to market and financial optimization effects as well as the platform's own predictions about the 'relevance' of ads to different groups of users," the paper, published in the Arxiv preprint server, found. [...] Critically, we observe significant skew in delivery along gender and racial lines for 'real' ads for employment and housing opportunities despite neutral targeting parameters."
"Our results demonstrate previously unknown mechanisms that can lead to potentially discriminatory ad delivery, even when advertisers set their targeting parameters to be highly inclusive," the paper continued.
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