Social media giant Facebook is reportedly facing a class-action lawsuit that alleges that the site discriminates against older and female users by withholding advertisements for financial services such as insurance, bank accounts, investments, and loans.
Reuters reports that Silicon Valley giant Facebook is facing a class-action lawsuit according to a complaint filed in San Francisco federal court this week. The complaint states that Facebook persists in its willingness to allow financial services to “target” customers by age and gender via advertising despite Facebook’s attempts to overhaul its ad targeting system.
The complaint alleges that Facebook’s conduct violates California’s civil rights law which could expose Facebook to billions of dollars in potential damages to users across the United States. Peter Romer-Friedman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an interview: “The internet is not a place where you can discriminate against people because of their age or gender, particularly in financial services opportunities. It would be like General Motors refusing to offer women or older people the same features on a car as men or younger people.”
A Facebook spokesperson commented on the situation stating: “Our policies have long prohibited discrimination and we’re proud of the strides we’re making in this area.” The complaint was filed seven months after Facebook agreed to overhaul its targeted ad system in order to settle lawsuits from civil rights groups alleging that Facebook’s ad system allowed advertisers to discriminate by age, gender, and zip code.
Romer-Friedman, a lawyer at Outten & Golden, commented on the lawsuit stating: “We recognize that Facebook has taken significant steps to prevent discrimination in housing and jobs,” but added: “The company can do a lot more.”
The recently filed complaint seeks damages for millions of Facebook users under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act which allows for up to $4000 of damages per violation. The case is being led by Neutah Opiotennione, a 54-year-old woman from Washington, DC who is alleging that Facebook deprived her of financial services ads due to her age and gender.
The case is Opiotennione et al v Facebook Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 19-07185.