Lawsuit Claims Facebook Job Ads Are Ageist, Could Your Business be Targeted?

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Ageism in Facebook Job Ads? Lawsuit Claims Jobs Posted on Facebook Discriminate Against Older Candidates

A union filed a lawsuit against multiple companies Tuesday, claiming Facebook’s proprietary advertising services help discriminate against those who are older and looking for a job.

Ageism in Facebook Job Ads?

Legally representing members as well as other job seekers, the Communications Workers of America are alleging that they weren’t presented with the same job openings due to Facebook’s targeted ad toolsaccording to Bloomberg. It specifically blames the artificial intelligence aspect, which accounts for several personal factors to hone in on a certain demographic.

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“When Facebook’s own algorithm disproportionately directs ads to younger workers at the exclusion of older workers, Facebook and the advertisers who are using Facebook as an agent to send their advertisements are engaging in disparate treatment,” the group alleged in the complaint filed in a San Francisco federal court, while also referencing California’s official employment competition stipulations.

The Communications Workers of America, though, aren’t directly suing Facebook, but rather the companies it believes uses or used the tools inappropriately, including Cox Media Group, Cox Communications, T-Mobile and Amazon. Other entities named in the amended filing, but not listed as defendants, according to Bloomberg, are Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Ikea and the University of Maryland Medical System.

“It’s important that the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] engages in a rigorous and comprehensive investigation of Facebook, since Facebook is the largest employment agency in the history of the world,” Peter Romer-Friedman, a lawyer for the union, told Bloomberg.

Facebook’s technology, which empowers would-be marketers with the ability to specify who they want to reach, has gotten the company in hot water before.

Facebook announced in November of 2016 that it was going to discontinue a feature that allowed advertisers to select an audience based on ethnicity and race. A class action lawsuit also filed in California at the time accused Facebook’s tools of violating key civil rights laws, like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Fair Housing Act.

A Facebook spokesman adamantly refuted the allegations made in that legal complaint when asked by The Daily Caller News Foundation for comment.

“The lawsuit is utterly without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously. Multicultural marketing is a common practice in the ad industry and helps brands reach audiences with more relevant advertising,” the company representative said in 2016, even though at a later point the company ditched that particular capability.

Facebook’s huge stake in the digital ad revenue industry in general (along with Google) has also triggered the ire of several people, groups and competing businesses.

Photo via Shutterstock

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3 Reactions
  1. The key here will be the availability of the posting to be seen generally. If the job listing is viewable by anyone, regardless of age there probably isn’t much to go on here. But if the post is only viewable by those who fit the targeting criteria for the promotion of the listing then they might have something.

  2. The problem may be attributed to targeting. It is not so much as being Ageist. It is about choosing to expose the ads to those that will respond the most.

  3. I think that we should be wary of this not just in job ads but also in other types of ads as well.

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