Facebook has landed in hot water before for its advertising algorithm, and how companies can potentially exploit it to discriminate against individuals based on religion, gender, age and more. Now, a new lawsuit wants the social media giant to take responsibility for these discriminatory practices in its advertising.
The case claims that Facebook pushes ads for insurance away from older users and women. And while Facebook denies any wrongdoing, it also says that it has the right to prioritize ads for different demographics. However, legal advocates say that just because the company has created an algorithm to do this doesn’t mean it’s not intentional discrimination.
“All an algorithm is is a set of instructions,” said Peter Romer-Friedman, one of the lawyers representing the suit. “An algorithm could say: Don’t show any housing ads to black people, don’t show any job ads to women. Just because you call it an algorithm doesn’t mean it’s not discriminatory in an intentional, unlawful way.”
If Facebook is found liable in the case, it could set off a firestorm across the platform and with advertisers. It’s far-fetched that this would ever occur, but at least the company is being forced to publicly answer for some of its more questionable data practices.
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