Facebook is again under fire for enabling advertisers to discriminate illegally.
An investigation by The New York Times and ProPublica found that the platform is enabling recruiters to restrict the visibility of job vacancy ads so that they are only seen by younger jobseekers.
Data-driven audience targeting is key to Facebook’s business model. However, the US’s Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits bias against people 40 or older in hiring or employment.
In many US jurisdictions, it’s also illegal to “aid or abet” age discrimination… which, on the face (sic) of it, is exactly what Facebook’s age filters appear to do.
UPS, Target, Verizon, Aldi, Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs, Ikea, Microsoft, and Boston Consulting Group are among a host of US employers found to have used Facebook’s age filters to prevent their job vacancy ads being shown to older workers.
Some defended their targeting as part of a broader recruitment strategy that reached candidates of all ages. Others said they had changed or were changing their recruiting strategies in response to ProPublica’s concerns.
Facebook sought to defend its practices. “Used responsibly, age-based targeting for employment purposes is an accepted industry practice and for good reason: it helps employers recruit and people of all ages find work.”
ProPublica’s report found that Google and LinkedIn similarly enabled age discrimination in job advertising. LinkedIn changed its system to prevent age discrimination after the issue was raised with them.