Cuomo Call to Investigate Advertisers Use of Facebook Platform Points in Right Directions.

Author:Acunto, Steve

Reasoning that Facebook's advertising platform enables its advertisers to use personal data such as race, color, religion and a host of other characteristics to discriminate, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called on the Department of Financial Services to investigate reports that state-regulated advertisers are using Facebook, Inc.'s advertising platform to discriminate against protected classes. Governor Cuomo said, "I am calling on the Department of Financial Services to investigate these claims and help ensure that New Yorkers seeking housing for themselves and their families are not discriminated against in any way. We will take aggressive action and ensure that those who are behind these reprehensible alleged practices are held fully accountable."

Financial Services Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell said, "DFS is committed to ensuring that all New Yorkers are protected and not discriminated against, no matter whether they're engaging in social media apps or simply opening a bank account. The Department will investigate Facebook advertisers to examine these disturbing allegations and we are prepared to take whatever measures necessary to make certain that all financial services providers are in compliance with New York's stringent statutory and regulatory consumer protections." According to reports, Facebook's advertising platform allows advertisers to modify or block ads using ZIP code information to exclude consumers based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex and disability, among other classifications. Facebook touts its advertising platform as a powerful means for housing and housing-related advertisers to reach desired consumers. In addition to the specific tools made available to advertisers, Facebook also allegedly uses machine learning and predictive analytics to categorize users to project each user's likely response to a given ad, which may recreate groupings defined by their protected class. Senator Kevin Thomas, Senate Chair of Consumer of Affairs Committee, said, "Large social media platforms have unprecedented access to our personal data. It is critical that we take a proactive approach in protecting our private data and preventing digital discrimination. I applaud Governor Cuomo for recognizing the seriousness of this issue, and for taking action to ensure that our personal data is not being used in deceiving and discriminatory ways. I am confident that DFS will work to address this critically...

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