The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against Facebook, accusing the social media giant of gender discrimination in job advertisements on its platform.
The ACLU charges, filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Tuesday, alleges that Facebook allows employers to target job ads for positions in male-dominated fields exclusively to younger men. The complaint targets Facebook and ten employers who the ACLU says ran gender-discriminatory ads.
“Facebook is violating federal civil rights law. Period,” the organization tweeted Tuesday. Under US law, companies are forbidden from discriminating in recruitment and from tailoring job ads to a specific gender or age range.
BREAKING: We’ve filed charges against @Facebook and 10 employers for using the platform to target their job ads — for positions in male-dominated fields — only to younger men.
Facebook is violating federal civil rights law. Period.
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 18, 2018
Among the ten employers are a furniture removal company, a tire fitting business, a temporary labor agency, and a roofing contractor. All were looking to hire men, for jobs traditionally and still mostly done by men.
The ACLU claim that while Facebook is not responsible for the content published by others on its platform, the company “built the architecture for this discriminatory marketing framework, enabled and encouraged advertisers to use it, and delivered the gender-based ads according to employers’ sex-based preferences.”
The civil rights organization claims that when women are excluded from seeing a certain job ad, they are also excluded from seeing related jobs that they could be eligible for.
Facebook has faced similar criticism before, for allowing housing ads to exclude people based on race, religion, language, and a host of other categories. Facebook agreed to end the practice after the US Department of Housing and Urban Development filed charges against the company in August.
Before ending the practice, Facebook’s advertisers could choose from 5,000 identifying characteristics to target ads towards. For example, a Christian bakery could target people who had shown interest in ‘the bible’ and ‘cakes.’ Housing providers could exclude people interested in ‘Islamic culture’ or ‘Hinduism,’ or more practically, people who were likely to have a ‘service dog’ or a ‘mobility scooter.’
Facebook said that its platform is “no place for discrimination,” and it will defend its practices once it reviews the ACLU complaint.
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