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Facebook Accused of Sexism With Targeted Job Ads

Graham Turner

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The social media giant has been accused of breaching equality laws with advertisements for certain jobs being presented predominantly to men.

Facebook’s ad-targeting algorithm has been found to favour men for male-dominated roles such as mechanics and pilots.

The gender bias has been uncovered by campaign group Global Witness, who have filed a complaint with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Information Commissioner, claiming that the practice is discriminatory.

In an experiment run by the group, 96% of those who viewed an advert for a mechanic were men, while 95% of those who saw a nursery nurse posting were women.

Global Witness also claim they had an two ad applications – one that specifically requested to not be shown to women and the other to over 55s – approved.

Facebook says its system its designed to show people ads based on that which they’re likely to be most interested in.

The company added that it is considering restrictions that would stop employers from deliberately discriminating in job adverts, which currently only apply in North America.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook, said: “Our system takes into account different kinds of information to try and serve people ads they will be most interested in and we are reviewing the findings within this report.

“We’ve been exploring expanding limitations on targeting options for job, housing and credit ads to other regions beyond the US and Canada, and plan to have an update in the coming weeks.”


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The campaigners have stated that this practice could be deemed as a breach of data protection laws, which require that processing of personal information does not result in discriminatory outcomes.

As well as simply demanding that a company change its practices, the Equality and Human Rights Commission can potentially take it to court to enforce an order.

The news is the latest controversy surrounding Facebook after it was found late last month that, despite a push to be more transparent, the social media juggernaut hid a report due to concerns around the problem of misinformation on its platform.

Graham Turner

Sub Editor

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