Facebook slammed over sexist job ads. Picture: Oli Scarff
Facebook slammed over sexist job ads. Picture: Oli Scarff

Facebook slammed over sexist job ads

FACEBOOK is in trouble again.

This time the social media giant has been slammed for targeting certain job ads exclusively at men by encouraging advertisers in certain male-dominated industries like law enforcement, roof tiling and truck driving to exclude women from their ads targeting on the site.

Social rights campaigners in the United States have claimed Facebook is "shutting out" women from hearing about job opportunities and accused it of giving "new life" to discrimination.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a complaint with the US labour equality watchdog alleging that Facebook "consciously encouraged" employers to exclude women from their digital recruitment efforts.

"In creating and carrying out these targeting mechanisms, Facebook has created and profited from a powerful tool for discrimination against female and other non-male job applicants," the complaint said.

"Facebook has long known that employers and employment agencies were using its platform to discriminate on the basis of gender, and (has) encouraged that behaviour, rather than eliminating it."

The complaint was filed on behalf of three female job seekers and the Communications Workers of America Union.

One job ad showed cops posing next to motorbikes and was for a police department in North Carolina that targeted men aged between 25 and 35 in Philadelphia.

Another advert showed a male tradie on a ladder and was targeted at men aged 21 to 55 who live or were recently in Maryland, according to the complaint.

The ACLU accused Facebook of discrimination, saying the company violated federal and state laws prohibiting businesses from excluding women from job ads
The ACLU accused Facebook of discrimination, saying the company violated federal and state laws prohibiting businesses from excluding women from job ads

In the US it is illegal to discriminate among potential employees due to gender or age, as it is in Australia.

"I shouldn't be shut-out of the chance to hear about a job opportunity just because I am a woman," said Bobbi Spees, one of the three complainants in the case, according to a statement.

Facebook's targeting features lets advertisers limit their ads to specific demographics and collectively defined groups to get more bang for their buck.

For example, that can involve including groups like "proud single mothers". Through Facebook's Customer Audiences tool, advertisers can also exclude social media users based on gender or people who have liked pages or have interests that relate to strong single mums.

The complaint claims Facebook has "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".

This isn't the first time Facebook has been accused of delivering intentionally discriminatory ads. In July, the company was forced to sign an agreement to stop discriminating based on race for housing ads in America.

The company responded by cutting more than 5000 ad-targeting options to prevent advertisers from discriminating on the basis of traits such as religion or race.

Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said in a statement to CNNMoney that there was no place for discrimination on Facebook.

"It's strictly prohibited in our policies, and over the past year we've strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse," Mr Osborne said. Facebook will defend itself once it has reviewed the complaint, he added.



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