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US Senate asks regulator to investigate Facebook ads
The US Senate has recently asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Facebook’s advertising practices. This comes after a report by ProPublica revealed that Facebook allows advertisers to target users based on their interests, including those related to race and ethnicity.
The report found that Facebook’s ad targeting system allowed advertisers to exclude certain racial and ethnic groups from seeing their ads. This raised concerns about potential discrimination and violation of civil rights laws.
In response to the report, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey sent a letter to the FTC, urging the agency to investigate Facebook’s ad practices and determine whether they violate anti-discrimination laws.
“Facebook’s ad targeting tools may be used to discriminate against certain groups of people, which is not only morally wrong but also illegal,” the senators wrote in the letter.
Facebook has faced criticism in the past for its handling of user data and its role in spreading misinformation during the 2016 US presidential election. The company has since taken steps to improve its policies and practices, but the recent report has raised new concerns about its advertising practices.
In a statement to ProPublica, Facebook said that it prohibits advertisers from using its platform to discriminate against people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, or other protected characteristics.
“We take any allegations of discrimination very seriously and investigate every case,” the company said.
However, the senators argue that Facebook’s policies and enforcement mechanisms may not be sufficient to prevent discrimination. They are calling on the FTC to conduct a thorough investigation and take appropriate action if necessary.
The FTC has not yet responded to the senators’ request for an investigation. However, the agency has previously taken action against companies for discriminatory advertising practices, including a case against Facebook in 2019.
As Facebook continues to face scrutiny over its advertising practices, it remains to be seen whether the company will take additional steps to address concerns about discrimination and protect the civil rights of its users.