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.


Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf becomes first female editor of Financial Times

Updated 12 November 2019

Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf becomes first female editor of Financial Times

  • Khalaf has served as deputy editor, foreign editor and Middle East editor during her more than two decades at FT
  • Khalaf will join Katharine Viner at the Guardian as one of the few women to edit major newspapers in Britain

LONDON: Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf will become the first woman to edit the Financial Times in its 131-year history after Lionel Barber, Britain’s most senior financial journalist, said he would step down.
Barber said on Tuesday he would leave in January after 14 years as editor and 34 years at the Nikkei-owned newspaper, which had one million paying readers in 2019, with digital subscribers accounting for more than 75% of total circulation.
Khalaf has served as deputy editor, foreign editor and Middle East editor during her more than two decades at the salmon-pink FT and in recent years has sought to increase diversity in the newsroom and attract more female readers, while also becoming the publication’s first Arab editor.
“It’s a great honor to be appointed editor of the FT, the greatest news organization in the world.
“I look forward to building on Lionel Barber’s extraordinary achievements,” said Khalaf, whose earlier writing for Forbes magazine had earned her a small role in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Her article described the leading character Jordan Belfort as sounding like a twisted version of Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives to himself and his merry band of brokers.
Khalaf will join Katharine Viner at the Guardian as one of the few women to edit major newspapers in Britain and one of few leading female editors in the world after Jill Abramson left the New York Times.
Before joining the FT in 1995, Khalaf worked at Forbes in New York and earned a master’s at Columbia University and graduated from Syracuse University.
Tsuneo Kita, chairman of Japan’s Nikkei which bought the FT from Pearson in 2015, said in a statement Khalaf was chosen for her sound judgment and integrity.
“We look forward to working closely with her to deepen our global media alliance.”
Nikkei’s Kita described Barber as a strategic thinker and true internationalist, adding he was very sad to see him leave.
“However, both of us agree it is time to open a new chapter,” he said.
During his time as editor, Barber engineered a successful push into online subscription that protected the title as others battled an unprecedented collapse in advertising revenue, as well as managing the move to a new owner.