On Thursday, Alphabet’s Google announced that it was tackling unlawful discrimination from being targeted to its users based on the basis of their gender, age, postal code, parental status, and marital status by barring employment, housing, and credit ads. The new policy will be implemented by the end of the year in the U.S. and Canada.
The announcement of new policy comes more than a year after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Facebook from selling discriminatory housing ads. It was looking into similar concerns about Twitter and Google.
The two tech giants, Google and Facebook, account for more half of the online ad sales globally. Hence, policy actions taken by them will have a huge impact on the industry.
The death of George Floyd, an African American man, has followed a series of protests in the U.S. The man died in police custody in Minneapolis. The death has placed a spotlight on racial inequities including the challenges faced by people from back communities in finding housing and jobs.
However, Google said that its new policy is not a reaction to the protests. Elijah Lawal, Google spokesperson, said “We had been working constructively with HUD on these issues since last year, and our timeline has not been driven by current events.”
On Thursday, in a company’s press release, HUD encouraged other online ad sellers to follow Google’s action.
Previously, Google had barred many advertisers targeting ads as per a users’ race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. However, investigations from researchers have shown that discrimination have said advertisers are still using other types of data to exclude racial minorities and lower-income individuals from their potential customer pool.
Last year, Facebook has banned advertisers from using ZIP codes, age, and gender to decide the reach of ads to people before HUD took action.