On 21 June Meta and the US Department for Housing and Urban Development released a legal settlement that will restrict Meta’s ability to offer those clients some of its core ad-targeting products. It resolves (for now) a long-running case over discriminatory targeting of housing adverts. Meta is now prohibited from using certain targeting tools in this context, and has promised new tools to ensure more representative targeting. This US lawsuit should be a wake-up call for European regulators, reminding them that taking systemic discrimination seriously requires proactive regulatory reform and enforcement. The relevant provisions of the Digital Services Act (DSA) are largely symbolic.
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If the bridling of harmful targeted advertising is a core objective of the DSA, the exclusion of influencer marketing is a grave oversight. Amendments introduced by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee in the European Parliament may remedy this omission. If "human ads" were omitted, Big Tech platforms’ sophisticated data-related business models will continue to escape encompassing regulation and hence, their power will remain unchecked. Continue reading >>