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Facebook accused of serving discriminatory job ads

Facebook accused of serving discriminatory job ads

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Facebook is running job ads on its platform that are restricted to certain age groups, a practice that may violate federal law, according to a report by The New York Times and ProPublica.

Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Target, and Verizon were among some of the employers found to have posted age-based job ads on the platform. Sources cited by ProPublica and the Times are concerned this type of targeting violates the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits exhibiting bias against people aged 40 or older in employment or hiring.

Facebook rebukes the allegations that it's serving discriminatory ads. The company claims that showing ads to different age groups is not discriminatory, because these ads could be part of a broader media campaign. Additionally, these targeted ads are comparable to employment ads served on TV or in magazines, and posting them is a permissible practice, several companies argue.  

Here are some key reasons the findings are problematic for Facebook:

  • They could undercut Facebook’s effort to become a top job-seeking platform. Facebook is becoming an increasingly popular destination for recruiters to source candidates, according to SourceCon, and this could indicate that more users are beginning to search for jobs on the platform. However, the findings from the Times and ProPublica could slow Facebook’s growth as a job search platform — job-seekers may fear being excluded from job listings, causing them to turn to other platforms.
  • And this could hurt the company’s goal of measuring up to LinkedIn’s recruiting business. This year alone, Facebook has taken several steps to attract recruiters to its platform to compete with LinkedIn. In February, Facebook rolled out new features that enable businesses in the US and Canada to post job openings on their Pages. Additionally, the company partnered with job recruiting platform ZipRecruiter in September to boost job listings. However, the platform may become a less popular destination for recruiters to source candidates if users begin to lean on Facebook less for job searches.

But Facebook isn’t alone in allowing age-specific employment ads. ProPublica was able to buy job ads on Google and LinkedIn that excluded audiences older than 40, although LinkedIn now prohibits such targeting. This shows that Facebook isn’t the only tech giant to allow employers to exclude certain age groups from job postings, and could soften any user backlash associated with the findings from ProPublica and the Times.

Digital trust is the confidence people have in a platform’s ability to protect and promote the interests of its users. 

The Digital Trust Report, a brand new report from BI Intelligence, examines consumers’ perception of major social platforms. It rates Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn on security, community, user experience, and content authenticity and shareability. These insights help brands and marketers make informed decisions about where to spend their marketing and branding dollars.

All of the information in this survey comes from our proprietary BI Insiders panel, made up of more than 15,000 specially selected and recruited Business Insider readers. This panel is designed to be a leading indicator of what’s next in digital. The panelists are business and tech savvy, they have buying power, and they’re highly engaged. The survey revealed some fascinating insights into how millennials and decision makers view today’s most popular social media platforms.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Digital trust has been shaken by a proliferation of malicious content and data breaches, which has significant consequences for brands that use these platforms.
  • The top platform won by a huge margin on most attributes. Content on this platform is more likely to be viewed as forthright and honest, which increases the persuasiveness of ads and marketing messages that appear alongside it. This also creates ideal conditions for thought leadership and branded and sponsored content to flourish.
  • The second-ranked platform was bolstered by users' confidence sharing content they find there. Users were most apt to share content they found there, which, together with its massive audience and high engagement, makes it the right platform to maximize reach.
  • The social platform that finished dead last did so because of its abusive comments section and extremely annoying ads. Still, this hasn’t dissuaded people from visiting, as evidenced by the time spent monthly and massive user base. This platform also resonates more with older generations.

The Digital Trust Report is only available with a subscription to BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To access this report, plus hundreds of other deep dives into the future of digital, click here.

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