FACEBOOK HOUSING ADS DISCRIMINATE
On February 25, 2019, I quickly closed up my office after a long day starting at 5 am and hopped on public transit to attend the Inaugural Disability Collection in downtown Washington, DC. After two years of hard work from disability advocates, Verizon and Getty Images, a photo collection of a featuring individuals with disabilities doing everyday things was created. I showed up with little expectations. But was delighted to see that the showcase was truly a celebration of inclusion. People in wheelchairs, visually impaired and hard of hearing filled the modern designed conference room. Many more were in surrounding rooms enjoying good conversations and cocktails.
Its was nice to see such support for a project by Verizon and Getty Images. But it was more than community outreach. It was to tap into an untapped market – the disability community. The disability community is about 20 percent of the US population. Making it the largest minority group. Yet photos and images of people with disabilities are only in 2 percent of all social media outlets! Creating a 18 percent market that has not been included in sales and promotion of merchandise. So Getty Images, a company focused on producing quality photos to be used in social media and marketing, decided they wanted to get into the disability market. With the support of Verizon, we now have for the first time have source of photos that social media, like Facebook, could use of individuals with disabilities doing everyday things. ( To hear live segments of Inaugural Disability Collection, try my podcast, “Accessibility Is Home” on Anchor.com).
It may be too early to tell whether the Disability Collection will soon find its way into the mainstream. But it is not to early to see that Getty Images is alone in believing that the disability community has something to contribute to the economic market. On March 26, 2019, a lawsuit against Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act through its real estate advertisement was settled. In March of 2018 the Fair Housing Alliance and other like minded housing groups accused Facebook of providing the ability for landlords and real estate agents to purposely exclude among other minorities, individuals with disabilities. Facebook provided “interests” categories, which allowed the ability to exclude users based on specific interests. Landlord and real estate owners specifically entered in the “interest” categories terms such as “Disability Parking,” “Disable Veteran” and other disability factors. Allowing the ability to exclude disabilities, women, and people of color, was and is against the Fair Housing Act.
It is heart breaking that Facebook thought it was acceptable to take money from customers who purposely excluded the disability community and other minorities. But I am also frustrated that the housing industry does not believe the disability community would not be viable customers to buy or rent homes.
Well Getty Images, it looks like the pool of customers for you just got a bit bigger!