Meta's Targeted Ad System Now Under Court Oversight

People pose for photos in front of the logo of Facebook parent company Meta on November 9, 2022 in Menlo Park, California. Meta will lay off more than 11,000 staff, the company said on Wednesday.
(Image credit: Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images)

The Department of Justice says its June settlement with Meta (formerly Facebook) over discriminatory targeting of online housing ads has met a "key" milestone with Meta's completion of a new system to "address algorithmic discrimination."

The agreement marks "the first time that Meta is subject to court oversight for its advertisement targeting and delivery system," DOJ said, and ensures that it will be subject to that court oversight through June 2026.

DOJ said the settlement had held Meta accountable for "unlawful algorithmic bias and discriminatory ad delivery on its platforms."

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The Biden Administration had alleged that Meta algorithms targeting housing ads relied on protected characteristics including a recipient's age, sex and race to gauge relevance.

Meta's new system, dubbed the Variance Reduction System (VRS) reduces the difference between an eligible audience's racial/ethnic/gender makeup and an actual audience. That system will get a third-party review to verify whether VRS is actually meeting specific compliance metrics. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.