Facebook Allegedly Allowing Sexist Job Ads In The U.K.

Facebook Allegedly Allowing Sexist Job Ads In The U.K.
mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

According to Global Witness, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s job adverts break the U.K.’s equality law, as the firm has “failed to prevent discriminatory targeting of ads and its algorithm was biased in choosing who would see them.”

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As reported by the BBC, an experiment depicted how adverts for mechanics on the platform were shown mainly to men, “while ads for nursery nurses were seen almost exclusively by women.”

Facebook asserts that the reason behind this is its algorithm, which shows ads to people according to their interests and preferences.

BBC reports that Global Witness submitted two job ads for approval, “asking Facebook not to show one to women, and the other to anyone over the age of 55.”

Interestingly, the platform approved both ads for publication, “although it did ask the organization to tick a box saying it would not discriminate against these groups.”

Facebook said: “Our system takes into account different kinds of information to try and serve people ads they will be most interested in and we are reviewing the findings within this report.”

However, Global Witness's investigation leader, Naomi Hirst, said, “The fact that it is possible to do this on Facebook in the U.K. is particularly shocking.”

Not The First Time

In the U.S., Facebook was the target of related accusations back in 2018, when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the organization, Mark Zuckerberg’s platform would allow job posters to prepare selected advertisements by gender, this time targeting only male users.

This is an illegal practice in the U.S. since job offers must be available to everyone regardless of age, gender, and religious and sexual orientation.

Back then, the accusations were based on the story of three American women who were unable to visualize job openings for professions traditionally considered male. In particular, the allegations targeted ten employers who posted job offers on Facebook Jobs for positions as a mechanic, roofer, and safety engineer.

Entrepreneurs took advantage of the platform's system to select who could see the published ads. This customization made it possible to offer the job exclusively to “men between the ages of 25 and 35” living in Philadelphia.

Online platforms are generally not responsible for content posted and created by others, but the ACLU claimed that Facebook can be legally responsible as it acts as a recruiter connecting employers with potential workers.

Facebook is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders’ families.

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