Ikea, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and the University of Maryland Medical System have been added to a lawsuit which alleges certain companies routinely use Facebook advertisement targeting to exclude older people from job applications.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Communications Workers of America “added claims under California’s fair employment and unfair competition statutes to the lawsuit, which was initially filed in December.”
“The Communications Workers of America is suing on behalf of union members and other job seekers who allegedly missed out on employment opportunities because companies used Facebook’s ad tools to target people of other ages,” the Chicago Tribune explained. “The original filing named defendants are Amazon.com Inc., Cox Media Group, Cox Communications Inc. and T-Mobile, as well as what the union estimates to be hundreds of employers and employment agencies who used Facebook’s tools to filter out older job hunters when seeking to fill positions.”
“When Facebook’s own algorithm disproportionately directs ads to younger workers at the exclusion of older workers, Facebook and the advertisers who are using Facebook as an agent to send their advertisements are engaging in disparate treatment,” the complaint declared.
Last year, Amazon, Verizon, Goldman Sachs, Target, and Facebook itself were accused by ProPublica of using the practice to exclude certain demographics.
Despite the fact that Washington employment lawyer Debra Katz claimed the practice was “blatantly unlawful,” Facebook disagreed, arguing it was “an accepted industry practice.”
“In the last year ProPublica has uncovered a number of different flaws in our advertising systems. Several of them were serious failures on our part. It’s why we apologized and took immediate action to prevent them in future,” declared Facebook Vice President Rob Goldman in a statement. “Today ProPublica has raised new concerns about companies, including our own marketing team, using Facebook to show recruitment ads to specific age groups. We have carefully reviewed their concerns — and this time we disagree.”
“First, our own advertisements. Facebook tailors our employment ads by audience. For example, we may use pictures of women or older people depending on the context. These individual ads are part of broader-based recruitment efforts designed to reach all ages and all backgrounds,” Goldman expressed. “We completely reject the allegation that these advertisements are discriminatory.”