Facebook to stop ads that target consumers based on ethnicity, gender, and age

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(CNN VAN) - Facebook is paying about $5 million in fines to settle lawsuits that claim the social media site allowed organizations to target consumers based on ethnicity.

Facebook will also remove age, gender, zip code, and ethnic affinity targeting for housing, employment, and credit-related advertisements.

Five discrimination lawsuits were filed by U.S. advocacy groups and consumers over the practice.

A 2016 investigative report by ProPublica found house hunting ads bought on the platform could be targeted to exclude certain ethnicities.

Facebook doesn’t allow advertisers to filter based on race, but consumers can be targeted through criteria called “ethnic affinity.”

In a blog post-Tuesday, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote the company should not further the long history of discrimination in the housing, employment, and credit industries.

As part of the settlement, Facebook will also remove age and religious factors from its "lookalike audience" tool.

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