All this data collection was therefore done with users' consent when they approved the app's permissions to access various elements on their smartphones - whether users realised the extent of what they were approving is another matter, though. Have you talked about being a stay-at-home mom, the single parent of a toddler, or a disabled veteran? Facebook is facing criticism over allegations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used details of 50 million Facebook users to help Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign.
With the tech giant under scrutiny, every piece of data we share with the company knowingly or not, is getting a second look. The NFHA said landlords are able to avoid showing housing ads to women and families, for example.
"Facebook has known for years that its advertising platform violates civil rights laws, but it has refused to change its ways on a voluntary basis", Diane L. Houk, one of the attorneys representing the housing groups, said in a statement. "Facebook ought to be opening doors to housing opportunities instead of closing them".
Facebook will no doubt mobilise the most expensive lawyers money can buy in a bid to put a stop to the case.
In a suit filed on Tuesday by the National Fair Housing Alliance and other organizations, Facebook is being accused of "egregious and shocking" housing discrimination. "We believe this lawsuit is without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously". "It is already a challenge for women, families with children, people with disabilities and other under-served groups to find housing". "Henceforth, they ask for access to the contacts while signing in for the first time from the app".
The Verge has reached out to Facebook regarding when the app review process will be resumed. The company is grappling with backlash over revelations that an app developer legally tapped into Facebook data and then sold it to a third party, in violation of Facebook rules.
Rather than answer the underlying question - why does Facebook need to know this about me?! - the company is trying to reframe this scandal on terms that it can win.