Last week, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo asked the state's Department of Financial Services to investigate reports that advertisers regulated by the state are using Facebook's advertising platform to discriminate against protected classes.
In a statement, Governor Cuomo's office said that Facebook's advertising platform allegedly 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. The Governor's office also said that Facebook "touts its advertising platform as a powerful means for housing and housing-related advertisers to reach desired consumers." In addition, the Governor's office said that Facebook 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."
DFS Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell said that her office will investigate Facebook advertisers to examine the allegations and will take whatever measures are necessary to make certain that financial service providers are complying with the law. She 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 allegations against Facebook advertisers are extremely troubling and fly in the face of everything that New York stands for" -- New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo