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Job Seeking Women Sue Facebook For Posting Job Ads Just For Men

It's important to note that online platforms like Facebook are generally not liable for content published by others

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LinkedIn faced probe for Facebook ads targeting 18 mn non-members. Pixabay

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing Facebook on behalf of three women job seekers who accused the social media giant of posting ads that are shown only to men.

The ACLU, along with the Communications Workers of America and the employment law firm Outten & Golden LLP, on Tuesday filed charges with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Facebook.

The women job seekers accused Facebook for targeting ads for jobs in male-dominated fields to younger male Facebook users only — excluding all women and non-binary individuals, as well as older male users.

“The case is brought on behalf of three job seekers and the Communications Workers of America, on behalf of a proposed class of millions of job applicants. It alleges that these job advertising practices violate federal civil rights laws prohibiting sex and age discrimination in employment,” Galen Sherwin from ACLU Women’s Rights Project wrote in a blog post.

Facebook requires users to identify their sex in the binary categories of male or female in order to even open an account.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“While users can later change their sex designation and select from among a few dozen options to describe their gender identity, Facebook still requires users to choose gendered pronouns (male, female, or neutral), which it then offers to advertisers for purposes of gender-based ad targeting.

“Facebook delivers the ad accordingly, including a notice that the user is seeing the ad because of their sex,” the ACLU said.

The lawsuit claimed that Facebook let 10 employers, including a police department, to run advertisements excluding women and nonbinary users.

Facebook responded to the allegations, saying there is no place for discrimination on Facebook.

“It’s strictly prohibited in our policies, and over the past year, we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse,” Download reported, quoting a Facebook spokesperson.

Facebook is “reviewing the complaint and look forward to defending our practices,” the spokesperson added.

Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

According to the ACLU, Facebook also offers advertisers the ability to use what it calls “Lookalike Targeting,” which allows advertisers to target customers with traits similar to those of their customer base.

It’s important to note that online platforms like Facebook are generally not liable for content published by others.

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“But in this case, Facebook is doing much more than merely publishing content created by others. It has built the architecture for this discriminatory marketing framework, enabled and encouraged advertisers to use it, and delivered the gender-based ads according to employers’ sex-based preferences,” the ACLU emphasised.

Facebook must change its platform to prevent advertisers from exploiting user data for discriminatory purposes, and ensure once and for all that all users, regardless of gender, race, age, or other protected status, are given a fair shake, said the ACLU. (IANS)

Next Story

Social Networking Giant Facebook Allows Ads to Promote Anti-vaccine Content

“We’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon.”

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Facebook, photos
This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

Facebook has enabled advertisers to promote anti-vaccine content to nearly nine lakh people interested in “vaccine controversies”, the media reported.

The social networking giant is already facing pressure to stop promoting anti-vaccine propaganda to users amid global concern over vaccine hesitancy and a measles outbreak in the Pacific northwest.

Advertisers pay to reach groups of people on Facebook which include those interested in “Dr Tenpenny on Vaccines”, which refers to anti-vaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny, and “informed consent”, which is language that anti-vaccine propagandists have adopted to fight vaccination laws, The Guardian reported on Friday.

On Thursday, California congressman Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, in letters to Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, urged them to take more responsibility for health-related misinformation on their platforms.

“The algorithms which power these services are not designed to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information, and the consequences of that are particularly troubling for public health issues,” Schiff wrote.

“I am concerned by the report that Facebook accepts paid advertising that contains deliberate misinformation about vaccines,” he added.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

In 2017, ProPublica, a US-based non-profit organisation, revealed that the platform included targeting categories for people interested in a number of anti-Semitic phrases, such as “How to burn Jews” or “Jew hater”.

While the anti-Semitic categories found by ProPublica were automatically generated and were too small to run effective ad campaigns by themselves, the “vaccine controversies” category contains nearly nine lakh people, and “informed consent” from about 340,000. The Tenpenny category only includes 720 people, which is too few to run a campaign.

Facebook declined to comment on the ad targeting categories, but said it was looking into the issue, The Guardian reported.

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“We’ve taken steps to reduce the distribution of health-related misinformation on Facebook, but we know we have more to do,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement responding to Schiff’s letter.

“We’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon.” (IANS)