Facebook is once again embroiled in a controversy in the US after the social media giant was accused of giving employers a powerful tool to discriminate against women seeking work, according to media reports.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Outten & Golden LLP, an employment law firm, on Tuesday dragged the tech giant and ten employers before the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that handles claims of workplace discrimination and other civil rights abuses, the Washington Post reported.
The women job seekers accused Facebook for targeting advertisements for jobs in male-dominated fields to younger male Facebook users only, excluding all women and non-binary individuals, as well as older male users.
"Sex segregated job advertising has historically been used to shut women out of well-paying jobs and economic opportunities," Galen Sherwin, an attorney with the ACLU Women's Rights Project, said in a statement.
"We can't let gender-based ad targeting online give new life to a form of discrimination that should have been eradicated long ago."
The complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the latest of several legal efforts that take aim at Facebook's core business of targeting advertising to highly tailored groups of consumers, a model that earned the company over $13 billion in revenue last quarter, the report said.
A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement that the company would review the complaint and that it looked forward to defending its advertising practices.
"There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it's strictly prohibited in our policies, and over the past year, we've strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse,” the spokesperson said.
This is not the first time Facebook has run into this kind of criticism. The company came under extensive scrutiny for allowing housing advertisements to exclude people based on race and other protected factors, and it eventually came to an agreement to end those advertisements nationwide, The Verge reported.
It later removed 5,000 categories that allowed advertisers to exclude religious and ethnic minority groups after the Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a complaint, it said.