Facebook job ads raise concerns about age discrimination

Journalist typing on computer

Facebooked added that if used responsibly, age-based targeting is accepted practice and helps employers find the right kind of people.

However, California's Fair Employment and Housing Act make it unlawful to "aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce the doing" of discriminatory acts proscribed by the statute. San Francisco employment lawyer Cliff Palefsky, who isn't part of the CWA suit, said it's his opinion you don't even need to go as high as the national Employment Act to combat ageism.

The use of Facebook's system to show job opportunities to just a specific age group has many upset and raised concerns over fairness to the older workforce.

The investigation carried out by US-based non-profit organisation ProPublica and The New York Times has found that some of the biggest employers in the United States like Amazon, Verizon, Goldman Sachs, Target and Facebook itself put up recruitment ads that are limited to particular age groups. That's according to a new investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times that found that dozens of the nation's top employers - including Amazon, Verizon, Goldman Sachs, UPS, and Facebook - are using Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn to create recruitment ads that target only younger job seekers.

The lawsuit comes at a moment when Facebook and other technology giants are facing pressure to mitigate the negative social consequences of content posted on their platforms, particularly the impact of targeting ads.

ProPublica also collected the database of Facebook ads to find out how often and precisely employers recruited based on age. "What matters is that marketing is broadly based and inclusive, not simply focused on a particular age group". "We have corrected those ads", Nina Lindsey, an Amazon spokeswoman told ProPublica. After being contacted by ProPublica, LinkedIn changed its system to prevent such targeting in employment ads.

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Facebook isn't the only company offering these types of tools to recruiters.

Three plaintiffs have filed a class action lawsuit against T-Mobile, Amazon, Cox and dozens of other large USA employers, for allegedly excluding older workers from seeing job ads on Facebook's paid advertising platform.

Facebook's ability to drill down when targeting ads has shown to be too good in some instances. Numerous jobs advertised mentioned in the report could have easily been performed by a person of any working age, yet some of the ads were targeted at only the young.

Moreover, it is considered a crime in many U.S. jurisdictions to "aid" or "abet" age discrimination, a provision that could apply to companies like Facebook that distribute such age-based job ads. It's not hard to guess how Facebook's ad controls could be used to weed out other characteristics like race or gender or religion.

"Anyone can buy Teen Vogue and see an ad. Online, however, people outside the targeted age groups can be excluded in ways they will never learn about", the report said.

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