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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

HUD File Housing Discrimination Complaint Against Facebook

“WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today a formal complaint against Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act by allowing landlords and home sellers to use its advertising platform to engage in housing discrimination. HUD claims Facebook enables advertisers to control which users receive housing-related ads based upon the recipient’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code. Facebook then invites advertisers to express unlawful preferences by offering discriminatory options, allowing them to effectively limit housing options for these protected classes under the guise of ‘targeted advertising.’ Read HUD’s complaint against Facebook. “The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s face. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing transactions including print and online advertisement on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status. HUD’s Secretary-initiated complaint follows the Department’s investigation into Facebook’s advertising platform which includes targeting tools that enable advertisers to filter prospective tenants or homebuyers based on these protected classes.  For example, HUD’s complaint alleges Facebook’s platform violates the Fair Housing Act. It enables advertisers to, among other things:

  • display housing ads either only to men or women;
  • not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”;
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age;
  • to display/not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible.”
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia.”
  • draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes…”

How the Holocaust-Swiss banks deal was brokered

Swissinfo: “It has been 20 years since Swiss banks agreed to compensate Holocaust victims for assets lost during the Second World War. A documentary takes a look at the dormant Swiss bank account scandal.  The conflict over Jewish assets in Swiss bank accounts culminated in the 1990s in what would become Switzerland’s largest foreign policy… Continue Reading

How Enslaved Chefs Helped Shape American Cuisine

Smithsonian – Black cooks created the feasts that gave the South its reputation for hospitality “…Black cooks were bound to the fire, 24 hours a day. They lived in the kitchen, sleeping upstairs above the hearth during the winters, and outside come summertime. Up every day before dawn, they baked bread for the mornings, cooked… Continue Reading

Seeking justice for Justice the horse

Washington Post:  Can a neglected animal sue? – “Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used to be named Shadow. And when he was named Shadow, he suffered. At a veterinarian’s exam last year, he was 300 pounds underweight, his black coat lice-ridden, his skin scabbed and his genitals so frostbitten that they might… Continue Reading

ADL Unveils First of-its-Kind Interactive Map Pinpointing Extremism and Hate Across U.S.

“ADL H.E.A.T. Map is the first-of-its-kind interactive and customizable map detailing extremist and anti-Semitic incidents around the nation. ADL experts in its Center on Extremism developed this unique visualization with data points extracted from information sources including news and media reports, government documents (including police reports), victim reports, extremist-related sources, Center on Extremism investigations and… Continue Reading

Study – Bad policing, bad law, not ‘bad apples,’ behind disproportionate killing of black men

EurekAlert – news release: “Killings of unarmed black men by white police officers across the nation have garnered massive media attention in recent years, raising the question: Do white law enforcement officers target minority suspects? An extensive, new national study from the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) at Rutgers University-Newark reveals some surprising… Continue Reading

Senate Judiciary Cmte releases first round of Kavanaugh’s White House documents

The Hill: “The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday publicly released its first tranche of documents from Brett Kavanaugh’s work in the George W. Bush White House. The batch being released, totaling more than 5,700 pages, is part of more than 125,000 pages given to the committee last week by the George W. Bush Presidential Library.… Continue Reading

“Stand Your Ground” Laws Have Failed to Stem Crime or Improve Safety

Rockefeller Institute- Robert J. Spitzer “Many knowledgeable Florida political observers were shocked when the state legislature passed, and Republican Governor Rick Scott signed in March, a modest gun-control measure that included raising the purchase age for firearms from eighteen to twenty-one, banning bump stocks, and giving police greater power to seize weapons from those deemed… Continue Reading

Quicksilver, helping improve Wikipedia’s science coverage & gender bias

Wired: “Miriam Adelson is an accomplished physician who has published around a hundred research papers on the physiology and treatment of addiction. She also runs a high-profile substance-abuse clinic in Las Vegas. Oh, and she’s the publisher of Israel’s largest newspaper and, with her billionaire husband Sheldon, a philanthropist and influential Republican party donor. Yet… Continue Reading

Judicial Studies Graduate Degree Program

Via Mary Whisner – Research Services Librarian- Gallagher Law Library, Univ. of Washington School of Law – “I came across theses from the University of Nevada Reno’s graduate program in judicial studies and thought I’d share. The Judicial Studies Graduate Degree Program has been carefully designed to accommodate the busy schedules and demands facing judicial… Continue Reading

Stepped Up Illegal-Entry Prosecutions Reduce Those for Other Crimes

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: “The push to prioritize prosecuting illegal border crossers has begun to impact the capacity of federal prosecutors to enforce other federal laws. In March 2018, immigration prosecutions dominated so that in the five federal districts along the southwest border only one in seven prosecutions (14%) were for any non-immigration crimes. But… Continue Reading