In late 2016, ProPublica found that Facebook’s advertising platform allowed employers to discriminate on the basis of race and exclude certain groups from seeing their ads. Facebook said it would take action, but a year later ProPublica tested the platform again and got the same results. Yet again, Facebook pledged to act within 90 days.
That period isn’t up yet. But in the meantime, the ACLU is slapping Facebook with a new complaint: The nonprofit is filing charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that Facebook’s ad platform permits gender discrimination. The charges–which were filed on behalf of two women and the Communications Workers of America, a labor union that represents 700,000 workers–also takes aim at 10 employers that have reportedly excluded women and non-binary applicants from seeing their job ads on Facebook.
“Sex-segregated job advertising has historically been used to shut women out of well-paying jobs and economic opportunities,” Galen Sherwin, a senior attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, said in a statement. “We can’t let gender-based ad targeting online give new life to a form of discrimination that should have been eradicated long ago.”
I reached out to Facebook for comment and will update if I hear back.
The ads in question were largely for jobs that tend to be male-dominated–auto repair, for example, or moving services–and in this context, Facebook effectively acts as a recruiter that sanctions and delivers gender-based ad targeting, according to the ACLU. In April, Facebook claimed it had already made changes that would restrict advertisers from excluding groups on the basis of “potentially sensitive personal attributes, such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion.”