Facebook Advertising for Agents: Anti-Discrimination Policies

There’s no argument that Facebook advertising has become an essential marketing tool for businesses, real estate included — just ask the more than 1.45 million people who log on to the social media platform each day.

Not only is advertising on social media an easy way to reach potential clients, it’s also relatively inexpensive.

Ad content may vary in type and desired audience, but the basic principles of organizing a successful Facebook ad campaign are the same.

The following is Part I of a three-part series designed to help real estate agents navigate Facebook’s ad policies.

These polices are constantly changing and cover a wide range of restricted, prohibited and acceptable content.

While we cannot detail each of these, we can point out a handful of common mistakes many real estate agents make.

Facebook Advertising Policies

When it comes to advertising for real estate, agents should take all measures to prevent violating Facebook’s anti-discrimination policies.

Most often, this occurs when agents exclude certain classes of people in an ad’s target audience or verbiage. Many times the agent isn’t even aware he has done anything wrong.

If an agent has ever used the term “family home” to market a listing, used the age range “30-45” in his verbiage or targeted “married women only” in his audience demographics, it’s likely the agent has broken at least one fair housing law, be it state or federal.

In the example above, the qualifiers “family” home and “married” women exclude any potential clients who are divorced, engaged, single, childless or otherwise. This characteristic is called “familial status” and is one of the classes protected under the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Additionally, the agent has specified a particular age group in his target audience. Use of this qualifier violates Facebook’s personal attributes restrictions.

Protected Classes

According to the Federal Fair Housing Act, there are seven classes against whom it is illegal to discriminate. These include color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status.

Facebook policies currently state the platform prohibits advertisers from “using audience selection tools to wrongfully target specific groups of people for advertising or wrongfully exclude specific groups of people from seeing their ads.”

Facebook no longer allows advertisers to filter audience demographics by multicultural affinities such as ethnicity and race; however, agents can still filter for a number of Fair Housing-protected classes, sex and relationship (familial) status included.

Personal Attributes Restrictions

Beyond these, Facebook policies restrict the use of personal attributes in ad language.

Such attributes are a person’s philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation or practices and medical or physical condition. Others include financial status, criminal records and gender identity.

The platform’s policies state that an ad’s content can neither directly nor indirectly assert or imply any of these personal attributes.

To simplify, an ad for a retirement community cannot read “join other seniors at Green Acres.”Instead, it should read “join the seniors at Green Acres.” The first implies intended audience members are senior citizens. The second simply states there are senior citizens living at Green Acres.

Another example may target upper-class audience members, but the ad’s language cannot explicitly state so.

An ad that reads “Rich and looking for a lake home?” will probably go unpublished. However, if the ad were to read “Looking for luxury lake real estate?” it has a better chance of being approved because the wording does not imply the audience member is of a certain financial status. Instead the latter sentence implies the property itself is luxurious, not that it is available to wealthy people exclusively.

Though these policies create a fine line between what can and cannot be in an agent’s advertising, this line is navigable with careful attention and planning.


For a full list of Facebook’s advertising policies and guidelines, please click here. And be sure to check out Part II, “Facebook Advertising for Agents: Words to Avoid.”

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