On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed discrimination charges against Facebook along with 10 additional employers with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Facebook’s advertising product includes a targeting tool which allows employers to make their ads visible to “all,” or to male or female users specifically.
According to the ACLU’s charges, employers used This kind of tool to exclude “female along with additional non-male prospective job applications via receiving the job advertisements along with opportunities.” (When creating a Facebook profile, people may choose via over a dozen gender options, including male or female.)
In an emailed statement, Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne wrote, “There can be no place for discrimination on Facebook; the idea’s strictly prohibited in our policies. We look forward to defending our practices once we have an opportunity to review the complaint.”
The 10 additional employers named within the ACLU’s complaint are Abas USA, Defenders, Nebraska Furniture Mart, City of Greensboro North Carolina, Need Work Today, Renewal by Andersen LLC, Rice Tire, JK Moving Services, Enhanced Roofing & Modeling, along with Xenith.
Facebook has come under fire before for offering advertising options which enable discrimination: Advertisers were once allowed to exclude certain “ethnic affinities” via their ad audiences or to target users based on sexual orientation, before the company worked to remove the targeting options. ProPublica also reported in December 2017 which Facebook’s ad targeting gave employers the option to exclude older workers via seeing job ads.
In an April 2018 blog post about ad targeting, Facebook wrote, “Advertising should be safe along with civil. the idea should not divide or discriminate.”
however, according the ACLU, Facebook “enables, encourages along with assists employers to target advertisements” based on the user’s gender. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.