Facebook Accused of Gender Discrimination for Its Advertising System

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Tuesday filed a complaint against Facebook to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in which they alleged that the Facebook’s advertising system permits employers to target job ads based on gender.

They mentioned in their appeal that according to job ads on Facebook, it seems that van driving, roofing, police work are for men only.

The complaint specifically mentions three women in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois who did not get to see any job advertisement for the positions which are traditionally thought to be occupied by men only.

The union also highlighted 10 different employers who posted job adverts on Facebook – for positions such as mechanic, roofer and security engineer – but used Facebook’s targeting system to control the target audience for the ad.

In one case, that target audience was set to “men” who were “ages 25 to 35”, or were recently near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania”.

Another nonprofit organization based in New York, ProPublica found many other similar examples.

Earlier this year ProPublica released a tool using which the users could collect data on the Facebook ads they had seen and can send that data directly to ProPublica for analysis.

Using that method, the site claimed to discover that Uber targeted men specifically in multiple cities for driving jobs. They published this report on the basis of 91 ads placed by Uber’s recruitment team. One out of these 91 ads was targeted at women while three were not gender specific.

Uber while replying said that they use a variety of channels to reach their prospective drivers with the goal of enabling more people to earn with the company.

Galen Sherwin, from the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, says,

“When employers in male-dominated fields advertise their jobs only to men, it stops women from entering into those fields.”

Facebook said it was looking over the ACLU’s complaint and affirmed that there was no room for discrimination on their platform.