Facebook allowed job ads to exclude women

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/18/facebook-allowed-job-ads-to-ex.html




Off topic but semi-related. FB is going to lease a giant tower here in Austin, on top of them having 2 other spaces around town. I am “thrilled”.


This will be good for Facebook.

I’d guess the companies targetted men to reduce their ad spend. They probably thought it didn’t make sense paying for women to see an ad when the job was most likely going to go to a man. If companies can’t target like that anymore (and of course they shouldn’t), they are going to have spend more money on Facebook.

If you are a software developer in Austin and you are on Linked In, recruiters will contact you daily. I used to always respond just to politely tell them I’m not interested, but now I just ignore.


Maybe? But only on a very small scale, and if they have to settle a lawsuit, my bet is that any potential future profit for this will be negated.


Don’t think of it as a tool for discrimination. Think of it as a tool for exposing violators of federal law.


I shut down my Indeed and some other job hunting profiles 3-4 years ago and i still occasionally get calls asking to see if i’m interested in some data entry shit job or whatever. They’re fairly infrequent but it does annoy me because i have no clue how they’re digging up my contact info.


What did Facebook start as again? Remember the judge who didn’t want to ruin Brock’s entire life? Was that because he felt he could maybe become an outstanding member of society one day, like Mark maybe? :thinking:

It’s the circle of life, Simba. :see_no_evil::hear_no_evil::speak_no_evil:

Oh sure, why not…


They’re disrupting the traditional means of discrimination and misogyny.


“The fact that they’re using this tool to facilitate discrimination absolves neither the hiring business nor Facebook.”

If you’re still using #deletefuckingfacebook, you’re not paying attention.


The same targeting options are probably available for all ads.

They would have grounds for a law suit if people clicked that and just excluded women. I’m sure facebook could pull up this info and see if anyone did that.

There’s still a valid reason to have this option. Advertising in general frequently adjusts it’s messaging based on the target demographic.

You may advertise the same job to men and women differently. How are you supposed to do that otherwise?

Also - what kind of jobs are advertised on facebook? work from home cattle calls? This seems like the kind of thing were gender based targeting would be reasonable.

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Lolwut? That’s some a-grade zucksplainin’


We don’t read ads differently you know. We don’t get special lady training for work we do, we get the same fucking training as men. There is no reason to have job ads that exclude women. None. It’s inexcusable in this day and age.


Why would you? A male and female chef, engineer, teacher, etc of comparable skill and experience would not need to be pitched the job differently. It’s a job posting, it’s not equal to product advertising you know.

Again, why does gender matter? Wouldn’t… i don’t know… the ability to talk confidently on the phone be more important than gender of the potential employee? It seems to me it would only matter to someone who specifically discriminates based on gender and thinks a particular sex should be doing that job over another.


According to the law Facebook is not allowed to give this option to job advertisers, any more than a newspaper would be allowed to set up separate women’s- and men’s-only pages for help-wanted ads in the classified section (or, put more starkly, pages for whites and non-whites).

If advertisers want to target certain demographics or psychographics to sell toasters or cigars or toys that’s fine, as long as the ad itself isn’t specifically excluding people based on gender or race. Similarly, it’s fine to target advertising based on affinity groups (e.g. people with similar interests). But inviting people to apply for a job falls under the category of labour law where every initial applicant must be given a minimal fair shot, so targetting (and thus excluding) people by immutable characteristics or aiding and abetting such targetting is illegal.

In the gig economy? Please. Unemployed men apply to work-from-home positions just as often as unemployed women do. “Reasonable” doesn’t come into it at that stage.

As studies have shown, sexist and racist employers have plenty of opportunities to discriminate during the screening and interview phase. It’s not the job of Facebook or anyone selling ad space to make that easier for them.


It’s a tricky situation. If you’re recruiting nurses, for example, you simply don’t waste your ad money in Guns & Ammo. If you’re recruiting fire fighters, you don’t run ads in Cosmopolitan. Everyone knows this, and you would fire your recruiter if he or she made choices like trying to recruit fire fighters with ads Cosmo. Is that discrimination, to choose where you spend your recruiter ad dollars and put them in magazines that fit the demographic of likely employees? I don’t know but that is how it has worked.

Now, if you’re running ads on social media, you don’t get to say, “don’t put my nurses ad in Guns & Ammo”. Instead you check off profiles: college educated, female, 25 to 35 age range. Which is exactly the same thing people were doing when they used to choose where to run ads, except it’s different when you’re clicking checkboxes.

I don’t know the answer, except I have no problem with recruiters being forced to waste money showing nursing recruiting ads to men or firefighter recruiting ads to women.

Anyway, in future, there will be no checkboxes at all. There will be machine learning algorithms that figure this stuff out and just magically end up targeting the right people with the right ads, and the end result will be roughly the same (only women will see nurse recruiting ads) but it will be done by magic, no human involved.

I really have no answers other than get more men into nursing and more women into fire fighting or something like that. Which seems like an unsolvable problem. In fact it seems like a problem no one wants to solve.

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Surely it’s more complicated than that?

Do I have to hire men to model women’s clothes?

If I form an agency to provide wet nurses to orphans, do I have to hire an equal number of male and female wet nurses?

If I want to hire people to test intrauterine devices, do I have to hire people without uteruses?

I mean, it seems to me that the law must provide for some circumstances where it’s OK to discriminate, or it’s a very bad law.

Given the level of data mining Facebook does they could do this yesterday. The answer to the question of why they’ve held off so long on offering a “magic” autotargetting option would be a very interesting and enlightening* one in the context of job ads. My guess is that some employers like the feeling of control over who they can include and exclude and the privilege-blind folks at Facebook were happy to give that feature to them.

[* in the sense of sunlight]


Because men can’t be nurses and women aren’t cut out to be firefighters?

No. No they don’t.

Um, both have.