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Platform’s Algorithms Unlawfully Classify Users on the Basis of Their Race, Gender and Age, Discriminating in the Provision of Financial Services Ads

(San Francisco, Calif.) – Facebook engages in unlawful online segregation and redlining, an amicus brief filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in federal court for the Northern District of California said today. The Lawyers’ Committee is filing in support of the plaintiff in Opiotennione v. Facebook, Inc. The brief argues Facebook’s attempts to dismiss a lawsuit against its discriminatory practices in financial services advertisements should be denied.

“Facebook is not giving the user what the user wants – Facebook is giving the user what it thinks a demographic stereotype wants,” said David Brody, counsel and senior fellow for privacy and technology at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Redlining is discriminatory and unjust whether it takes place online or offline and we must not allow corporations to blame technology for harmful decisions made by CEOs.”

Digital advertising on Facebook discriminates based on the race, gender, and age of its users and then provides different services to these users, excluding them from economic opportunities. The Lawyers’ Committee has been committed to ending discrimination since 1963 and carries out this fight by confronting online and offline segregation.

The brief asserts that Facebook profiles its users on the basis of their protected characteristics and then provides different services to these users and excludes them from economic opportunities, like financial services, based on those same characteristics. Facebook alleges that its algorithm treats everyone equally and the fault lies with its advertisers, but technology cannot hide the fact that the corporation’s algorithms cause digital redlining.

If Opiotennione v. Facebook, Inc. is not allowed to proceed, Facebook’s digital redlining practices will continue and open the door for online commerce in this generation to be tainted by the de facto segregation and exclusion that tarnished previous generations.


About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.  Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.”  The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of voting rights, criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and hate crimes.  For more information, please visit