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Facebook takes steps to prevent discrimination in housing, jobs, credit ads

After years of criticism, Facebook Inc. has agreed to make changes to its targeting policies for housing, employment and credit ads.

The company made the changes in response to concerns by the National Fair Housing Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Communication Workers of America and other private parties, which filed litigation against Facebook citing the need to build "stronger protections against abuse."

As part of a settlement, Facebook said users who want to run housing, employment or credit advertisements will not be allowed to target by age, gender or zip code. Advertisers offering housing, employment and credit opportunities will have a smaller set of target categories for their campaigns, and multicultural affinity targeting will be made unavailable for these advertisements.

Additionally, Facebook will build a tool to allow users to search for and view all current housing advertisements in the U.S., regardless of whether the ads are shown to the user.

The social media giant engaged civil rights law firm Relman Dane & Colfax to review its advertisements tools.