It’s safe to say Facebook hasn’t had a very good year in the public relations department. Fresh off revelations that the company let housing advertisers racially target and discriminate, a new report alleges that the platform allows for something similar to occur with older people on the job hunt.
But Facebook isn’t alone. According to a joint investigation from ProPublica and The New York Times, dozens of companies including Verizon, Target, Amazon and more are placing job recruitment ads targeted at select age groups. Such a feature could violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which forbids discriminating against people 40 or older during the hiring process. One employment lawyer even went so far as to call the practice “blatantly unlawful.”
However, Facebook adopted a different stance this time and fiercely defended its advertising rules in a blog post titled “This Time, ProPublica, We Disagree.”
“We completely reject the allegation that these advertisements are discriminatory,” Facebook VP Rob Goldman wrote. “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.”
Depending on the strength of the public’s backlash, Facebook may need to reverse course on this suddenly aggressive position. And if it’s found to be illegal, the social media giant will have no choice.