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Facebook Lets Firms Exclude Older People from Job Ads

December 21, 2017

Firms like Amazon, Verizon, and Goldman Sachs use Facebook’s ad-targeting systems to direct jobs to young people, so older folks never see them. That’s according to a new report from ProPublica and the New York Times

What they found: “Dozens” of companies have been found to be placing recruitment ads that are limited to particular age groups. As an example, Verizon targeted ads at 25-to-36 year-olds, complete with images of millennials sitting at desks in shiny offices.

Why that matters: Debra Katz, an employment lawyer, tells the site that the practice is “blatantly unlawful.” The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits organizations from preferential hiring of people under age 40. T-Mobile, Amazon, and others have been named in a lawsuit claiming the companies used Facebook’s ad platform to engage in a pattern of age discrimination.

Facebook is defensive: “Used responsibly, age-based targeting for employment purposes is an accepted industry practice and for good reason: it helps employers recruit and people of all ages find work,” it says.

The backstory: We’ve reported that Facebook ad tech also allows firms to block ads from people on the basis of race and ethnicity, and to promote anti-Semitism. This feels like more of the same.

More broadly: The Atlantic asks, Can Facebook be tried for human-rights abuse?

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