Filed Date: July 26, 2018
Clearinghouse coding complete
Riddick v. Facebook is a lawsuit brought to hold Facebook accountable for discriminatory advertising practices relating to users’ personal characteristics such as sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, marital status, citizenship, primary language, immigration status, and age. Facebook’s discriminatory practices violate California Civil Code Sections 51, 51.5, and 52.
This lawsuit was brought in concurrence with 66 civil rights lawsuits filed against employers including employers Nebraska Furniture Mart, Sandhills Publishing Company, Need Work Today, Renewal by Andersen LLC, Rice Tire, JK Moving Services, Enhanced Roofing & Modeling, and Xenith for using Facebook ads to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, disability, and other protected classes. The claims were filed in response to an investigation by ProPublica which exposed the discriminatory advertising on Facebook. In November 2016, the first civil rights lawsuit was filed against Facebook in California, on behalf of millions of people of color who had missed opportunities for housing, jobs, and credit. This prompted a second major lawsuit by the Fair Housing Advocates in New York.
On July 26, 2018, this action was moved to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act. Facebook moved to consider whether this action was related to Onuoha v. Facebook (Mobley v. Facebook) (N.D. Cal.). On September 10, 2018, the court found that the cases were not related. Additionally, on October 31, 2018, Facebook moved to dismiss the plaintiff's second amended complaint.
Facebook lawyers initially moved to have Riddick v. Facebook and the four related cases dismissed. When the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, testified before congress earlier in April 2018, he acknowledged that protecting people from illegal ad discrimination was a work in progress. Following the hearing, Facebook agreed to a civil rights audit. The holistic review of all possible civil rights issues on Facebook was led by Laura Murphy, the former head of the ACLU in Washington, and included experts from the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. The outcome of this review led to a settlement of this charge and several other pending cases.
Prior to settlement, on November 19, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint. The plaintiffs alleged that Facebook and other advertiser defendants violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Civil Code by collaborating "in creating, developing, and/or utilizing" tools to "not publish, not provide, and not send ads and the information in those ads" to persons "based on their protected personal characteristics."
In March 2019, Facebook reached settlements in three civil rights cases and two complaints before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over ad discrimination on its platform. The settlement included Riddick v. Facebook (N.D. Cal.), Communications Workers of America v. Facebook (EEOC), Spees v. Facebook (EEOC), Mobley v. Facebook (N.D. Cal.), and National Fair Housing Alliance v. Facebook (S.D.N.Y), all available on the Clearinghouse. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg commented on the settlement in a blog post: “There is a long history of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, and credit, and this harmful behavior should not happen through Facebook ads…We can do better.” Sandburg attributed the civil rights audit in Facebook’s decision to settle.
The terms of the settlement included promises by Facebook to make significant changes to their advertising tools to curb the availability of advertisers to target users based on protected characteristics. The changes will affect Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Facebook agreed to create a separate portal for ads in areas of housing, employment and credit. The parties agreed to monitor the changes for three years and to study the potential that the algorithm creates unintended bias. Finally, Facebook promised to change how it targets audiences for advertisements without using protected classes like race and gender to generate an audience. On March 19, 2019, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their complaint.
As of April 2020, the settlement was being enforced.
Cianan Lesley (4/8/2019)
Emma Himes (4/1/2020)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/7528178/parties/riddick-v-facebook-inc/
Beeler, Laurel (California)
Rava, Alfred Gerard (California)
Blavin, Jonathan H. (California)
Kim, Elizabeth Ann (California)
Patashnik, Joshua (California)
See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/7528178/riddick-v-facebook-inc/
Last updated Aug. 27, 2023, 3:07 a.m.
State / Territory: California
Filing Date: July 26, 2018
Case Ongoing: Yes
Private individuals alleging discrimination by Facebook's advertising tools and advertiser defendants
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: Yes
Class Action Outcome: Mooted before ruling
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Order Duration: 2019 - 2021
Affected Sex or Gender: