Stories by Scott Rosenberg

Housing Department charges Facebook ads discriminate

A Facebook logo on a smartphone screen
Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a complaint against Facebook Friday under the Fair Housing Act, charging that the social network allows advertisers to illegally discriminate in housing ads by excluding some groups from seeing them and "invites advertisers to express unlawful preference by suggesting discriminatory options."

Why it matters: Targeted advertising is the heart of Facebook's (and many other online companies') business, but "user choice" viewed through a different lens may look like discriminatory behavior. When it comes to protected groupings based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability, targeting ads can look more like a prejudicial bug than a feature.

Google clarifies how it keeps users' location data

iPhone screen with Google Maps centered on Manhattan
Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is trying to clarify the way it handles storage of individual users' geolocation data in the wake of critical coverage that exposed inconsistencies in its policies.

The background: An Associated Press story reported earlier this week that many Google services continue to retain location information even after a user has changed a phone's privacy settings not to do so.

Report: Twitter suspends account of Infowars host Alex Jones

Alex Jones in sunglasses with fist raised
Alex Jones. Photo: Brooks Kraft/ Getty Images

Twitter has moved against Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' account, preventing him from posting for 7 days following his removal from Facebook and many other social network platforms, according to CNET.

Why it matters: Twitter was the highest-profile holdout from the wave of companies and platforms that have recently shut down Jones' accounts. As recently as last week it said that Jones could remain on Twitter because he had not violated the site's rules.