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Age discrimination lawsuit against big employers exposes snag in Facebook’s targeted ad system

The Facebook logo, displayed in Berlin in 2016.
The Facebook logo, displayed in Berlin in 2016.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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A lawsuit was filed Wednesday against T-Mobile, Amazon, and Cox Communications that place job ads through Facebook, claiming that these companies run afoul are engaging in age discrimination in their hiring practices.

The suit came in the wake of an investigation by the New York Times and ProPublica that alleges that Facebook, through the algorithms that target particular users, is showing these ads only to users that fall within younger age groups. The investigation questions whether the practice runs afoul of age discrimination laws.

Facebook is not a defendant in the lawsuit filed Wednesday.

How would the lawsuit and increased attention on its targeted ad practice impact Facebook? Could Facebook also be legally liable? How does Facebook’s targeted ad system work?

We reached out to Facebook for comment and did not receive a response for the airing of this segment.


Ramit Mizrahi, employment lawyer with Mizrahi Law in Pasadena; she tweets @MizrhaiLaw

Josh Constine, editor-at-large for TechCrunch who’s been following the story; he tweets @JoshConstine