MENLO PARK (CBS / AP) — Facebook is again facing charges of housing discrimination because of the Menlo Park-based company’s ad-targeting system, this time by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The claim Thursday from HUD comes less than a week after Facebook said it would overhaul its ad-targeting systems to prevent discrimination in housing, credit and employment ads as part of a legal settlement with a group that includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance and others.

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Facebook is wrestling with several government investigations in the U.S. and Europe over its data and privacy practices. The company’s advertising methods generate most of its profit because its highly valued by advertisers who can get their message to the exact crowd it desires.

HUD claims Facebook’s ad platform is “encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination” because it allows advertisers to exclude people who they don’t want to see their ads. The agency said Facebook technology illegally restricts who can view housing-related ads on its platforms and across the internet. It also claims Facebook gathers extensive data about its users and then uses that data to determine which users view housing-related ads.

HUD claims Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude people based on their neighborhood and gave advertisers the option of showing ads only to men or only to women.

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Charges of discrimination haven’t been Facebook’s only problem with its highly valued ad targeting. It’s taken fire for allowing advertisers to target groups of people identified as “Jew-haters” and Nazi sympathizers. It’s also still dealing with fallout from the 2016 election, when, among other things, Facebook allowed fake Russian accounts to buy ads targeting U.S. users to enflame political divisions.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Thursday.

The company’s stock fell 1.1 percent before the market opened.


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