Lawsuit accuses Facebook ad targeting of abetting bias

In this file photo taken on October 23, 2019 A giant digital sign is seen at Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. (AFP / Josh Edelson)
Updated 01 November 2019

Lawsuit accuses Facebook ad targeting of abetting bias

  • Suit contends that Facebook tools allow messages to be targeted at specific age ranges or genders
  • As a result, women and older people were denied the benefits of ads for financial services, it adds

SAN FRANCISCO: A lawsuit filed on Thursday accuses Facebook of letting ad targeting tools be used to exclude women and older people from offers regarding loans, investments and other financial services.
Two law firms have filed a discrimination suit in San Francisco federal court on behalf of a 54-year-old woman living in Washington and will ask a judge to grant the case class-action status.
“Women and older persons are entitled to full and equal services of businesses such as Facebook, and the financial services companies that advertise on Facebook’s platform,” attorney Matthew Handley said in a statement.
“Purposeful targeting of advertisements away from these members of our community unlawfully denies them these guarantees.”
The suit contends that women and older people were denied the benefits of ads for financial services because Facebook tools allow messages to be targeted at specific age ranges or genders.
Facebook said it is reviewing the complaint.
“We’ve made significant changes to how housing, employment and credit opportunities are run on Facebook and continue to work on ways to prevent potential misuse,” a spokeswoman for the leading social network told AFP.
“Our policies have long prohibited discrimination and we’re proud of the strides we’re making in this area.”
Facebook announced earlier this year that it was revamping how it uses targeted advertising in a settlement with activist groups alleging it discriminated in messages on jobs, housing, credit and other services.
Under those changes, housing, employment or credit ads would no longer be allowed to target by age, gender or zip code — a practice critics argued had led to discrimination.
In the settlement, Facebook agreed to take “far-reaching measures to stop advertisers from using age, gender, and other protected traits to target job, housing, and credit ads,” according to the law firms involved in the new suit.
“Today’s lawsuit alleges that Facebook has not taken any action to stop advertisers from excluding older persons and women from getting financial services ads on Facebook, other than in the limited area of credit ads,” the law firms said.


TWITTER POLL: Readers split over effect of coronavirus pandemic on spending 

Updated 09 July 2020

TWITTER POLL: Readers split over effect of coronavirus pandemic on spending 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home and lockdown restrictions have left many to be confined at home with little to spend on. 
But in an Arab News Twitter poll that asked whether people have managed to save, the answers were divided. 
Out of 609 votes, only 34 percent said their savings have increased since the start of the pandemic, while 22.5 percent said they were still spending. 
However, 33.5 percent said they couldn’t afford to save as many lost their jobs due to business closure. 


According to a UN Economic Commission for Western Asia report, the coronavirus pandemic threatens to wipe out more than 1.7 million jobs across the Arab world this year.
Arab nations’ gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to shrink by at least $42 billion in 2020, hit by plunging oil prices and virus-linked shutdowns, the report said.
“More than 1.7 million jobs could be lost in 2020, with the unemployment rate increasing by 1.2 percentage points,” it claimed.

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