Thursday, December 21, 2017
The New York Times ran an interesting article that was co-researched and co-written with ProPublica, Facebook Job Ads Raise Concerns About Age Discrimination Target marketing is nothing new. I'm sure you all have the experience of having ads for things you might "like" pop up all over webpages you are browsing. So what about target marketing for job applicants? The article notes that a number of large corporations have "placed recruitment ads limited to particular age groups ... The ability of advertisers to deliver their message to the precise audience most likely to respond is the cornerstone of Facebook’s business model. But using the system to expose job opportunities only to certain age groups has raised concerns about fairness to older workers." This then raised the question-whether such advertising would be considered discriminatory. Facebook's response "[u]sed responsibly, age-based targeting for employment purposes is an accepted industry practice and for good reason: it helps employers recruit and people of all ages find work,” said Rob Goldman, a Facebook vice president."
The article explains how this story came about in doing research for another story regarding political ad placement. Now litigation has started, according to the story. "[A] class-action complaint alleging age discrimination was filed in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of the Communications Workers of America and its members — as well as all Facebook users 40 or older who may have been denied the chance to learn about job openings. The plaintiffs’ lawyers said the complaint was based on ads for dozens of companies that they had discovered on Facebook."
There are a number of social media sites used to advertise jobs, and the article notes for example that they may require advertisers to certify compliance with non-discrimination laws. The article discusses a number of legal issues, including what, if any, liability the social media companies may have. It's a fascinating article that presents arguments on both sides of the issue. Check it out!