This isn’t a good look for Facebook, but really it’s just the tool being used, or misused, in this case.
“According to a new report from ProPublica and the New York Times, Facebook has helped companies like Verizon, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, and Target place “recruitment ads limited to particular age groups,” as well as used its targeting abilities to recruit its own employees from certain age groups. Washington labor lawyer Debra Katz told ProPublica the practice is “blatantly unlawful,” citing the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967—which prohibits bias in the hiring process against anyone older than 40 years. As the site noted, it’s also possible the move puts Facebook in violation of other laws on both the state and local level which prohibit aiding or abetting age discrimination in employment.”
The larger problem, and the question we may need to address, is whether all this ad-targeting is actually creating a horrible, horrible situation where companies, and ad-buyers, have a tool to blatantly discriminate against certain groups? You could argue, given the way it’s already been used to exclude minorities in housing ads, and now over-40 year old workers from employment ads, that is exactly what we have here.
And, if targeting of ads leads to this, where does that leave us going forward with big data?