AG investigation leads to Facebook making changes to prohibit discriminatory advertisements

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State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced that Facebook signed a legally binding agreement with his office to make significant changes to its advertising platform by removing the ability of third-party advertisers to exclude ethnic and religious minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals and other protected groups from seeing their ads.

The agreement requires Facebook to make these changes within 90 days. The impacts will be nationwide. This agreement is legally binding in Washington state. Facebook will change its platform nationwide.

This action concludes a 20-month investigation by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office that began after nonprofit ProPublica published an article on Facebook’s advertisement targeting.

“Facebook’s advertising platform allowed unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, sexual orientation, disability and religion,” said Ferguson. “That’s wrong, illegal, and unfair.”

The assurance of discontinuance, filed in King County Superior Court, resolves the Attorney General’s investigation into whether targeting options for advertisements on Facebook’s platforms constituted unfair acts and practices, a violation of the state Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

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