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Case Name Riddick v. Facebook PA-CA-0004
Docket / Court 3:18-cv-04529 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Public Accomm./Contracting
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
Outten & Golden
Case Summary
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 ... read more >
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 - 04/08/2019
Emma Himes - 04/01/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
Immigration status
Language discrimination
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
Religion discrimination
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Housing
Website
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Race, unspecified
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Facebook Inc.
Plaintiff Description Private individuals alleging discrimination by Facebook's advertising tools and advertiser defendants
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
Outten & Golden
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Mooted before ruling
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2019 - 2021
Filed 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PA-NY-0004 : National Fair Housing Alliance et al. v. Facebook (S.D.N.Y.)
FH-CA-0026 : Mobley v. Facebook (Onuoha v. Facebook) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-DC-0079 : Spees v. Facebook (No Court)
EE-DC-0080 : Communications Workers of America v. Facebook (No Court)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  IFA's Charlottesville Case: Sines v. Kessler
Integrity First for America
Date: May 28, 2021
(Integrity First for America)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  SUMMARY OF SETTLEMENTS BETWEEN CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATES AND FACEBOOK
ACLU
Date: May 2019
By: ACLU
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Cal.
03/19/2019
3:18-cv-04529
PA-CA-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Cal.
11/19/2018
Third Amended Class Action Complaint Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 26]
PA-CA-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Beeler, Laurel (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PA-CA-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Rava, Alfred Gerard (California) show/hide docs
PA-CA-0004-0001 | PA-CA-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Blavin, Jonathan H. (California) show/hide docs
PA-CA-0004-9000
Kim, Elizabeth Ann (California) show/hide docs
PA-CA-0004-9000
Patashnik, Joshua (California) show/hide docs
PA-CA-0004-9000
Ring, Rosemarie T (California) show/hide docs
PA-CA-0004-9000

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