facebookYesterday (March 27, 2018) the National Fair Housing Alliance and other fair housing groups sued Facebook for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.* The lawsuit seeks a sweeping expansion of the FHA by creating liability for those who “facilitate” discrimination even though they do not engage in it directly. The issue is not new, but the effort to hold Facebook responsible for its advertisers is.**

First though, a little background. Section 804(c) of the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. §3604(c)) prohibits making, printing or publishing discriminatory advertisements. This prohibition can apply not only to the person who places the ad, but also to the person who prints or publishes it. When Facebook puts an ad on someones Facebook page it is publishing the ad, and so it could have some responsibility if the ad is discriminatory. More