ACLU accuses Facebook of running job ads that women can't see

Employers are using Facebook to target job ads exclusively to men complaint alleges

Employers are using Facebook to target job ads exclusively to men complaint alleges

Facebook became embroiled in another controversy Tuesday, after the American Civil Liberties Union accused the company of giving employers a powerful tool to discriminate against women seeking work. It alleges that Facebook's technology let advertisers target groups by race in violation of California civil rights laws.

Three women, from Pennsylvania, Ohio and IL, came forward on behalf of female and non-male Facebook users.

An investigation by ProPublica into Facebook's ad practices named Uber as one tech company that nearly exclusively targeted men in 87 out of 91 Facebook job advertisements.

The complaint was filed on behalf of three women, living in Pennsylvania, Ohio and IL, who allegedly were not shown ads for jobs in traditionally male-dominated fields, even though they appeared qualified for those positions.

But Tuesday's complaint says Facebook has "long known" that employers and employment agencies were using its platform to discriminate on the basis of gender.

"This type of targeting is as illegal now as it was in 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed", said Sherwin. It publicly committed to ending the practice across the United States in July 2018.

"The internet did not erase our civil rights laws", Peter Romer-Friedman, an attorney with Outten & Golden LLP, said in the ACLU statement.

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?"

She had used Facebook to search but had trouble finding any leads.

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"It's strictly prohibited in our policies, and over the past year, we've strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse".

Facebook said there is "no place for discrimination" on its platform and that it will defend its practices once it can review the complaint. The company also began requiring advertisers to complete a course to educate them on the "difference between acceptable ad targeting and ad discrimination".

"I shouldn't be shut out of the chance to hear about a job opportunity just because I am a woman", said Linda Bradley, one of the three complainants in the case, according to a press release.

"Our primary focus is to build the most talented and most dedicated team in the industry, regardless of who those folks might be, so that we can best serve our customers", Renewal by Andersen, one of the employers who had targeted male construction workers, said in a statement. He added, "We are an equal opportunity employer, and we are proud of the diversity of our workforce".

Using that method, the site said it discovered men were targeted specifically in dozens of cities around the U.S. for driving jobs with Uber.

Josh Salton, a spokesman for Abas USA, told NPR by email that he was unable to respond to any of the specific allegations but that the company is an equal opportunity employer and "we do not discriminate in our hiring practices or in the terms and conditions of our employment". "That's basically what Facebook is doing nowadays". While Facebook removed the ability to target housing, credit, employment, insurance or public business ads based on race, creed, color, national origin, veteran or military status, sexual orientation or disability status in April, it disabled an additional 5,000 targeting options in its ad tool suite following the HUD complaint.

It followed a ProPublica report in 2016 which showed how users could buy housing ads based on "ethnic affinity", preventing black, Hispanic and other groups from seeing ads.

Last year, Outten & Golden brought an EEOC complaint against several employers who had used Facebook to target ads that excluded older workers.

According to ACLU's Sherwin, the fix is simple: She suggests Facebook stop making it an option for employers to select a gender for targeting job ads. "We know now that this is a leadership problem, from the top down".

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