Facebook is currently a digital powerhouse. The company’s advertising revenue soared in the past year, up almost 50 percent from 2016. Mobile advertising, which can be difficult for other media companies, made up almost 90 percent of advertising revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017.
With those kind of advertising numbers comes a huge amount of power. Combined, Google and Facebook account for 73 percent of digital advertising in the U.S. Facebook owns the world’s largest pool of personal data, which its users share voluntarily with the company. Having customized data about customers means that Facebook can specifically tailor its ads at particular segments of the population who are likely to be receptive to them.
Recently, a class action lawsuit was filed against Facebook in San Francisco on behalf of the Communication Workers of America and its members. The lawsuit alleges that companies routinely use Facebook ads to target younger job candidates, which is a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
The lawsuit was filed after an investigation showed how leading employers such as Target, Amazon, Verizon, and Goldman Sachs were able to place job ads on Facebook that were limited to a younger audience. For example, one job ad for a job in finance was limited to Facebook users who were 25 to 36 years old, lived in or had recently visited Washington D.C., and who had an interest in finance. No older users were able to see those job ads.
As part of the investigation, job ads were also placed on Google and LinkedIn which excluded people over the age of 40 from viewing them. After learning of the lawsuit and the investigation, Google and LinkedIn changed their systems, and announced that the practice violated their policies. However, Facebook defended the practice, saying that the practice of microtargeting particular Facebook users was a useful tool to help people of all ages find jobs.
In the past, Facebook has been allowed to avoid compliance with a number of federal laws, because it claims that it is not a media company, but a tech company. Tech companies are protected by the Communications Decency Act, which says that websites are not responsible for content that is posted by users. That law was passed in 1996, and has allowed websites to succeed in many ways, but also has protected a number of illegal activities.
By law, companies are not allowed to discriminate against job applicants or employees who are over the age of 40 under both federal and state law. However, age discrimination can be very hard to prove. A job applicant may feel that he or she was not hired because of age, or an employee may believe that he or she was laid off because of age, but it can be difficult to prove unless the problem is widespread throughout the company. If it can be proven that an employee or a job applicant was discriminated against because he or she was over the age of 40, the company can be held liable for damages, including unpaid wages, unpaid benefits, emotional damages, and more. In addition, the company may be forced to change its policies.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against in the Oakland-San Francisco area because of your age, call Micha Star Liberty, Oakland age discrimination attorney, at 510-645-1000. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that job applicants and employees should be evaluated on the basis of merit, not age. Call today to learn more about your legal rights or to schedule a free consultation on your case.