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Facebook accused of allowing gender bias in job ads

Written on Sep 21, 2018

A group calling itself Freedom from Facebook slammed the social media giant in a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. It slams Facebook's privacy policies and suggests remedies to combat what they call Facebook's 'monopoly.'

Facebook is discriminating against millions of women by allowing companies to target job advertisements toward men, according to charges filed on Sept. 18 against the company with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A group of job seekers has alleged that Facebook, which has come under fire for its technology allowing landlords to discriminate against African-Americans and other minority groups, helps employers exclude female candidates from recruiting efforts.

The job seekers, working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Communication Workers of America, are filing charges against the Menlo Park-based company and 10 other firms.

The ACLU said the job ads where women were excluded included primarily male-dominated roles such as mechanics, truck drivers, technicians and tire salespeople.

“When employers in male-dominated fields advertise their jobs only to men, it prevents women from breaking into those fields. What’s more, clicking on the Facebook ads brought viewers to a page listing numerous other job opportunities at these companies for which job seekers might be qualified,” the ACLU said in a statement.

“Because no women saw these ads, they were shut out of learning not only about the jobs highlighted in the ads, but also about any of these other opportunities," the advocacy group said.

Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesman, commented: “There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it’s strictly prohibited in our policies. We look forward to defending our practices once we have an opportunity to review the complaint.”

According to a source, Facebook, which gets feedback from advocacy groups and civil rights experts, is working to require that advertisers consent with anti-discrimination policies at Facebook and at the federal level.

The lawyers involved in the case discovered that the ads only targeted men by clicking on a Facebook tool called “Why am I seeing this ad?”

This past summer, in response to a lawsuit in the state of Washington, Facebook agreed to remove 5,000 ad targeting proxies related to race and sexual orientation.