back to article Facebook caught up in court battle with Amazon and pals over 'ageist job ads' that targeted young

A lawsuit alleging that Amazon.com, Cox Media Group, Cox Communications and T-Mobile US used Facebook ads to discriminate against older jobseekers has been expanded to finger other organizations, including Facebook. The complaint was filed in December on behalf of the Communications Workers of America union, in the wake of a …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    Slam dunk

    Advertising in a teen mag is still visible to other people if they choose to look.

    1. Craig 2

      Re: Slam dunk

      "Advertising in a teen mag is still visible to other people if they choose to look."

      Yea, but the 40+ bloke probably won't make it to the interview when he says "I saw your ad in Sweet 16 magazine".

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: Slam dunk

        40+ bloke isn't allowed to have a teenaged daughter?

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Slam dunk

          Faecebook itself is becoming increasingly an old farts platform anyway as the one see it as very uncool and smart people see it as a place for fuckwits.

          1. Craig 2

            Re: Slam dunk

            "Faecebook itself is becoming increasingly an old farts platform anyway as the one see it as very uncool and smart people see it as a place for fuckwits."

            Which demographic are people that think puerile word puns are clever?

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Slam dunk

              Faecebook user?

              Stung a bit did it?

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Slam dunk

      Facebook isn't a teen mag. It aims to target adverts much more effectively than that.

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    Blah!

    "Age-limited ads, he said, are not discriminatory if they're part of a broader marketing campaign.

    "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," he said."

    Is there any context to go with either of those statements or does Facebook think they can make

    self-contradicting statements and nobody will think about them.

    It's about time FB got a corporate kick in the goolies.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Blah!

      Is there any context to go with either of those statements or does Facebook think they can make self-contradicting statements and nobody will think about them

      So far it seems to be working for them. Lately everything they state seems fit that category.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. ST Silver badge
    Angel

    Problem is ...

    Advertising for shampoo or makeup in a teen mag isn't a potential minefield for age discrimination, as there can be no rational claim to shampoo - or makeup - discrimination.

    Job adverts in a magazine that is explicitly age-targeted, on the other hand ... not good.

    Amazon, Facebook, etc. can easily publish their job adverts on web sites that aren't explicitly age-targeted.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Problem is ...

      Every magazine has a very good idea of the age profile of its readers, and rest assured that information is presented to potential advertisers as part of the sales pitch.

      Perhaps a reasonable solution would be to allow Facebook users to search for job ads meeting whatever conditions they specify, and then don't filter those results by criteria that the user doesn't specify. That way, any Facebook user would be able to view any job ad.

      1. ST Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: Problem is ...

        > That way, any Facebook user would be able to view any job ad.

        They can easily advertise jobs on LinkedIn. Or Facebook, but without age target restrictions. Or Indeed.com. Or Glassdoor.com.

        Or they can create an email subscription to their job openings feed where everyone and anyone can subscribe regardless of age.

        My assumption being that, in this day and age, most techies get their job openings info online, and don't read the jobs section in printed copies of newspapers. :-)

  4. DougS Silver badge

    Shouldn't it depend on why they specified age limits?

    If they sent out some ads targeting 22-35 and talking about how they have flex work and locations near hip downtown locations, and another ads targeting 36-50 talking about how they have on-site child care and 12 weeks paternity leave, and ads targeting 51+ talking about how they have great health care plans and allow people to transition to part time work as they approach retirement...

    Yeah, I'm sure that's not why they were doing it either, but it would be nice if they could find one company that actually took the high road instead of looking for a way to advertise only at those who will ask for less money!

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Shouldn't it depend on why they specified age limits?

      "Shouldn't it depend on why they specified age limits?

      If they sent out some ads targeting 22-35 and talking about how they have flex work and locations near hip downtown locations, and another ads targeting 36-50 talking about how they have on-site child care and 12 weeks paternity leave, and ads targeting 51+ talking about how they have great health care plans and allow people to transition to part time work as they approach retirement..."

      Absolutely - if you have covered the whole working age range with ads then that's fine. Pretty clear that this is unlikely to be what has been done though.

  5. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Stupid does as stupid is

    One of the reasons I suspect many youngish PHBs do not like older workers is they have been there and do that before. They seen the periodic hype about AI, fusion, etc. and the resultant crash and burn enough times to have some pretty thick scars and callouses. Thus, they are naturally more wary of the latest fad and marketing 'trend' and will tend to ask hard, sometimes embarrassing questions. The PFYs, however, do not have that experience. Thus can be more easily snowed by marketing patter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stupid does as stupid is

      Yeah, I wonder how well an interview would go if I queried a stray question, remarking how someone I knew nearly got fired for revising interview tests halfway through because he didn't like a particular demo, more than 30 years ago! Would it count against me if the interviewer were less than 30 years old?

  6. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    An interesting idea...

    1. Mandate some metadata marking of job ads as such. Also mandate further job ad metadata to specify location, industry, category, title, etc.

    2. Forbid restricting job ads by age/race/religion/whatever (this is probably in line with the existing laws in most enlightened countries, but IANAL).

    3. Devise a way to tell ad blockers to filter out everything but job ads, based on the ad metadata. Utilize the metadata from item 1 above to further narrow things down. Filter out everything that does not follow the standards of item 1 above.

    4. Sue the pants off anyone who does not follow the rules. Channel the fines collected to development of ad blockers (one can hope, can't one?).

    Potential employers/advertizers have an incentive to follow the rules because they should be interested in having a wide audience (beyond complying to laws). The filtering will be done by people looking for employment. Ad flingers and ad brokers will avoid legal troubles as long as they enforce the simple rules of item 1...

    1. AndyS

      Re: An interesting idea...

      > Potential employers/advertizers have an incentive to follow the rules because they should be interested in having a wide audience

      That simply isn't true. If I run an minimum-wage sweatshop, and facebook are going to charge me £0.01 per person they show a recruitment advert too, then I'll get a much better bang for my buck if that advert is only shown to young, unemployed, relatively desperate people. If they start showing it to stable, middle income, 50+ year old parents, they'll be wasting my money.

      Wide audience works well when the advert is a fixed cost per run (eg a billboard, or a newspaper advert). When it is a pay-per-view, then I want the narrowest audience possible.

      Legislation exists to prevent this turning into discrimination. Facebook doesn't appear to be paying any heed to the legislation.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think a lot of people are going to hit their 40s and 50s wishing they’d done more to stamp out ageism while in their 20s and 30s

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      An employer cannot target job ads to a particular age group, the must instead causee people to waste their time and money applying for and attending interviews for jobs that they are never going to get.

    2. cmaurand

      Not actually. What I really wish that I'd done was gone to school for something like heavy equipment repair. Those folks are always in demand. Now I'm an unemployed IT worker only a few years from retirement who probably won't be able to land anything but a helpdesk job or something in retail because I'm over 50

  8. Mage Silver badge

    Illustrates the evil of personalisation

    It needs to be totally illegal to personalise /target adverts on websites and collect personal data to aid advertisers.

    Not just about job or housing discrimination. It's generally evil and abusive.

  9. NBCanuck

    Facebook Age

    With things as they are I'll never see a job add on Facebook. I entered my birth year as 1925 (with incorrect month and day as well). Of course now it is locked and I cannot change it, but I can live with that. It's not like I am going to provide then with any real personal info to confirm what they know about me.

    ....and yes, I'm kidding myself believing for even a moment that they don't know my real birth date.

  10. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    You missed some out...

    ....and that workers age 52 to 70 have a harder time being hired than younger workers...

    And the workers over 70?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Targeting teen mags for job ads is just as bad but because it's Facebook it gets more coverage.

    Both should be banned. It's ageism plain and simple. I also don't like the young and hip angle. Sounds like code for young and good looking and we already know looks is still the biggest discrimination people face and with face recognition how long before that gets taken to extreme levels.

  12. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    "ads can be configured to only appear to...white people"

    I'd have thought that was illegal even (or especially) in the USA.

    Watching TV as a youngster in 60's and 70's I always thought the USA was quite advanced in race relations and equal opportunities. I'm older and more worldly wise (AKA cynical) nowadays of course but back then the lack of non-white faces in UK positions of power was stark in comparison to the US. It feels like the US stopped their advancement about 1975 and are now lagging or in reverse. (and yes, I'm well aware of the racist problems in the UK too)

  13. Tom 35 Silver badge

    I was seeing much worse ads

    How to make millennials work. There were a bunch of them including one from Microsoft.

    Seems millennials are such slackers, managers need special tools to get them to do any work.

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