Property management companies, take note: The Department of Housing and Urban Development has filed charges against Facebook for housing discrimination — escalating the company’s ongoing fight over discrimination in its ad targeting system. The charges build on a complaint filed in August, which found that there is reasonable cause to believe Facebook has served ads that violate the Fair Housing Act.

It is important to note that although a lawsuit has been filed, at this point in time, there has been no judgment made or fault found against Facebook or any other parties. Facebook — as disclosed in its advertising policies — has prohibited advertisers from using its tools to discriminate against people. Over time, the social media giant has proactively removed over 5,000 different targeting options including the option to exclude specific ethnicities and religions to help minimize the risk of this type of abuse. In its advertising policies, Facebook also asks advertisers to ensure they comply with various applicable laws when using the Facebook platform and its various advertising and targeting features.

Despite these moves, the area that remains under review is the issue of automatically optimized advertising or “automated ad rules.” The concern here is that even though an advertiser might set up an ad to more broadly reach all types of people/audiences, automatically optimized ad delivery systems, like Facebook, could eliminate certain people seeing the ad due to lack of engagement; a feature which was intended to eliminate ad waste and increase ad performance.

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How SOCi is Supporting Property Management Marketers

SOCi recognizes that the recent Facebook ad targeting lawsuit has caused concern throughout the real estate and property management communities. As specialists in the property management industry, we understand the sensitivities around this type of news. That’s why we’re sharing the ways in which we offer support to property management teams, and the methods we take to protect property management marketers from liability.

SOCi’s Self Serve Platform (Do It Yourself)

SOCi has partnered with Facebook and Instagram to offer our clients access to certain proprietary social media advertising features like Boost PLUS that allow a business to distribute content (which may or may not include an offer) to a specific audience or set of audiences based on a host of targeting factors including location, age and/or gender. These tools are intended to help property management marketers reach new audiences in manners otherwise unavailable. However, while Facebook will continue to monitor, restrict and even remove content and advertising that they feel is in violation of their ad policies and or applicable laws, it is important that marketers remain informed of and in compliance with applicable discriminatory laws when setting up and enabling such targeting.

We encourage all property management marketers to review Facebook’s Advertising Policies, including those on discriminatory practices, and to ensure their teams understand the best practices for advertising on Facebook.

SOCi’s Creative Services Team (Do It For Me Services)

SOCi’s Professional Services Team (Creative Services) boasts more than 100 years of collective social media and digital marketing expertise. Creative Services currently produces content, responds to reviews, and places advertising on behalf of thousands of property locations. In so doing, the team has a very strong awareness of — and is in strict compliance with — the applicable laws that prohibit discrimination against groups of people in connection with offers of housing, credit, etc. Our writers, editors, and paid media specialists have been trained on fair housing rules and ensure that our targeting for multi-family does not discriminate against anyone by age, income, race, gender, zip code or religion. In addition, Creative Services proactively reviews its organic social content for the same criteria.  

We understand the complexities involved with new and changing technologies and the challenges of keeping up to date with the latest platform and legal policies and guidelines. As a trusted marketing partner, we are committed to being a resource for property management marketers and their teams and will continue to stay abreast of any major marketing developments or changes.

For more information about SOCi’s capabilities, please contact the SOCi Team.

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