Facebook to Make Sweeping Discrimination Reforms

 

March 21, 2019
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Facebook will change how it manages job, housing, and credit ads on its platforms, following what it called "historic settlement agreements" with leading civil rights organizations and recommendations from civil rights experts.

The reforms, announced March 19, are designed to prevent advertisers for housing, employment or credit from discriminating based on race, national origin, ethnicity, age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, family status or other characteristics covered by federal, state and local civil rights laws. Advertisers will no longer be able to target ads for jobs, housing or credit at people of a certain age, gender or race.

The social media giant will implement what the ACLU called "far-reaching changes" that include requiring advertisers to certify that they are complying with Facebook's policies prohibiting discrimination and all applicable anti-discrimination laws. Additionally, Facebook will work with a variety of experts and civil rights and liberties advocates to study the potential for unintended biases in the algorithmic modeling used by social media platforms.

The changes—which also cover advertising on Instagram and Messenger, which Facebook owns—are the result of the settlement of five lawsuits filed between 2016 and 2018 by civil rights groups, a national labor organization, workers and consumers.

"One of our top priorities is protecting people from discrimination on Facebook. Today, we're announcing changes in how we manage housing, employment and credit ads on our platform," said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer.

"There is a long history of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and credit, and this harmful behavior should not happen through Facebook ads."

The cases that have been settled include one filed by the Communications Workers of America against T-Mobile US Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and Cox Media Group. It claimed these employers "routinely exclude older workers from receiving their employment and recruiting ads on Facebook" by targeting ads in a way that prevents older workers from seeing them, effectively denying them job opportunities

Also settled was one submitted in September by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Facebook's advertising system allowed employers to target job ads based on gender. The complaint referred to three women in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois who were not shown advertisements for what have traditionally been considered male-dominated professions.

SHRM Online collected the following stories from its archives and other news outlets on using employment ads on Facebook in ways that discriminate against protected classes.

Facebook Vows to Stop Ad Discrimination Against African-Americans, Women, Older Workers 

Facebook has agreed to pay out about $5 million to settle five lawsuits and take aggressive steps to block discriminatory advertising on its platforms as part of a sweeping agreement with leading civil rights and labor organizations.

Tuesday's settlement will bring changes to how Americans can be targeted on the platform, ensuring that protected groups that already face discrimination cannot be excluded from seeing ads that can help them find a new job, an apartment or a loan, civil rights and labor organizations said. 
(USA Today)   

Is It Discriminatory to Show Job Ads to Only Young Social Media Users? 

Recruiting tactics that make a company's job ads visible to younger candidates but not to older candidates could mean employers are excluding older job seekers. But is microtargeting a violation of civil rights law?
One suit, filed by the Communications Workers of America against T-Mobile US Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and Cox Media Group, claims these employers "routinely exclude older workers from receiving their employment and recruiting ads on Facebook" by targeting ads in a way that prevents older workers from seeing them, effectively denying them job opportunities
If the courts agree, the wins are expected to improve the employment scene for older Americans. 
(SHRM Online)

[SHRM members-only tool kit: Managing Equal Employment Opportunity]  

Facebook Accused of Job Ad Gender Discrimination 

In September, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) submitted a complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that Facebook's advertising system allows employers to target job ads based on gender—a practice the ACLU says is illegal.

Specifically, the complaint refers to three women in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois who were not shown advertisements for what have traditionally been considered male-dominated professions.

A separate investigation by ProPublica discovered what it said were more examples showing a similar pattern. 
(BBC)






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