Facebook targeted ads, metrics on ads on iPhone screen


ACLU charges Facebook with gender discrimination over targeted ads

Are these ads for jobs playing fair?


Christina Bonnington


Posted on Sep 18, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 6:13 am CDT

Facebook’s targeted ads are under fire once again, this time with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed discrimination charges against Facebook and 10 other employers for targeted ads that excluded women in the search for potential new employees.

The ACLU claims that these companies sought to exclude “female and other non-male prospective job applications from receiving the job advertisements and opportunities” via targeted ads.

Facebook defended its ad-targeting and advertising practices in a statement to BuzzFeed News: “There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it’s strictly prohibited in our policies,” Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne said via email. “We look forward to defending our practices once we have an opportunity to review the complaint.”

Facebook allows advertisers to exclude people with specific demographics, interests, or behaviors from seeing its ads in order to zero in on a specific audience. Facebook stipulates that while advertisers can do this, its policies prohibit wrongful discrimination.

“When we identify ads offering housing, employment or credit, we require the advertiser to certify that they are complying with our anti-discrimination policy and with applicable anti-discrimination law,” Facebook explains in an April post on its business blog. “We’re always improving our systems to identify these kinds of ads and reject ads from businesses that have declined to certify compliance. These systems reject thousands of such ads per day.”

Still, the ACLU cites 10 companies that have used targeted ads in a discriminatory way. This includes companies such as Xenith, Rice Tire, Enhanced Roofing & Modeling, Nebraska Furniture Mart, and the City of Greensboro North Carolina.

Earlier this year, the National Fair Housing Alliance and other organizations accused Facebook of “egregious and shocking” housing discrimination because its platform allowed apartment and realty companies to discriminate by sex, disability, and whether someone had children or not. An earlier ProPublica investigation also found that housing advertisers could potentially discriminate by race.

H/T Buzzfeed News

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*First Published: Sep 18, 2018, 1:59 pm CDT