Facebook backs down after multiple lawsuits charged it with discriminating in ads

Facebook has been facing several discrimination lawsuits from users who alleged that its ad systems discriminated based on age, race or gender. And on Tuesday, the company settled the lawsuits, according to CNN.

Facebook became the target of five different discrimination lawsuits between 2016 and 2018 alleging that its online ad systems kept users from seeing ads pertaining to employment, housing or credit based on factors such as race, age or gender.

The lawsuits came from entities including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which charged Facebook with violating the Fair Housing Act. The ACLU was part of a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged discrimination against potential job seekers. In its complaint, the ACLU and others alleged that some of Facebook’s employment ads were targeted exclusively to male users and that most of the listings were for jobs in male-dominated lines of work.

Facebook, as part of the settlements, announced that it will launch a different advertising portal for the relevant ad types.

In an official response to the settlement, civil rights attorney Peter Romer-Friedman said, “Equal rights must be the guiding principle for online advertising and recruiting. This settlement takes away digital tools that advertisers can use to deny equal opportunity. We will continue our efforts to hold employers accountable for using Facebook's platform to discriminate.”


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