Discriminatory Ads Can Still Appear On Facebook Despite The Social Network Agreed To End Some Targeting Options For Potentially Discriminatory Advertising

Jeremy B. Merrill, a reporter at The Markup, found out that discriminatory ads still appearing on Facebook’s platform, despite the social media giant agreed last year to ban marketers from using some targeting options for job, housing, and credit ads. On 25 August, The Markup published a report in which several job listing ads were identified that leveraged the social media platform to discriminate against people of ‘multicultural affinity’ or particular ages.

According to the report, back in May of this year, Tenderness Health Care, a Wisconsin health care agency, posted a job ad on Facebook’s platform looking for personal care workers, and the agency asked the social media platform to now display the ad to anyone more than 54 years of age. Furthermore, the agency also asked the platform to display the ad particularly to individuals who have ‘African American multicultural affinity.’ According to the report, the social media giant, apparently, complied.

It is important to note that Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating based on race and age. These advertising practices also go against Facebook’s own policies. According to a company’s spokesman, Tom Channick, when this ad was brought to Facebook’s attention, the social media platform took it down. This isn’t the first time the social media giant has been accused of allowing discrimination on its platform. Last year, civil rights groups accused Facebook of violating federal laws and files lawsuits against it. In March 2019, the company agreed to ban marketers from using some targeting options that enabled them to exclude users of specific ages, genders, and ‘multicultural affinities’ from seeing financial services, job, and housing ads. Then, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development also filed charges against Facebook for housing discrimination.



In an email, Channick wrote that helping prevent discrimination in employment opportunity advertising is an area where Facebook leads the industry. However, he wouldn’t say how The Markup was still able to find discriminatory job advertising on Facebook’s platform. The company’s spokesperson also did not respond to a question about whether Facebook’s automated controls to limit when and how marketers can target advertising based on gender and age, always work, The Markup reported.

After The Markup contacted the social media giant, the company announced that Facebook will eliminate ‘multicultural affinity’ categories within Facebook’s ad platform.

Read next: Study: Mobile Ad Spend Increased By 71 Percent Globally During The Second Quarter Of 2020

Featured photo: Dado Ruvic / Reuters

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