Remember when Mark Zuckerberg declared 2018 to be the year he was going to “fix” Facebook? Well, looks like the Facebook founder and CEO dropped the ball on that one: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the company for allowing employers to target job ads based on gender. Meaning, there are a number of ads directed at only men on Facebook.
The ACLU submitted a complaint on Tuesday, September 18th to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that overseas civil rights violations in the workplace, alleging that Facebook’s online ad platform allows employers to post ads that are visible to men only, which discriminates against women as well as those who don’t ascribe to a particular gender or list their gender on the site. This practice, according to the ACLU, is illegal and in violation of the Civil Rights Act.
In addition to Facebook, the ACLU is suing 10 other companies, including an auto repair company and a window replacement company, which posted job ads on Facebook allegedly targeting mostly younger men. The ACLU, while emphasizing gender discrimination in the lawsuit, also alleged that employers could discriminate by age through Facebook’s platform.
It’s easy enough to do. If you’ve ever used Facebook to post a job ad or a promotional ad for your Facebook business page, you’ll know that you’re asked whether you’d like to target your ads at males, females, or both. You’re also given the option to target specific age groups.
According to Fortune.com, the ACLU learned that the companies were targeting only men after they clicked, “Why am I seeing this ad?” on Facebook and used the tool to start searching for some of the job postings. The BBC reports that “Facebook is in the process of putting together data to dispute the findings and respond to the ACLU’s complaint.”
Despite Zuckerberg’s intentions, 2018 hasn’t been that great for Facebook. There was the #DeleteFacebook movement after news broke that data-mining company Cambridge Analytica misused private information from more than 50 million Facebook users. Then there was the time Facebook’s search engine suggested videos to users that were really, really disturbing. And this year it was also determined that Facebook is losing people ages 25 and under to Snapchat and Instagram. Yikes.