It takes a little time to work out what is happening here:
Facebook has been accused of breaching equality laws after its technology was found to favour men when targeting job adverts for male-dominated roles such as mechanics and pilots.
The campaign group Global Witness has filed complaints with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Information Commissioner, claiming a Facebook algorithm designed to show jobs to the most interested candidates is discriminatory.
In one case, 96pc of those who viewed an advert for a mechanic were men, while 95pc of those who saw a nursery nurse posting were women. Adverts for pilot positions were disproportionately seen by men, while those for psychologists were far more likely to be seen by women.
Facebook has now said that it is preparing to update its job advert system within weeks. Global Witness alleges that the company may have breached laws preventing discrimination against women in the workplace.
In the Global Witness tests, the advertiser had not specified that job adverts should be directed at a particular gender. The targeting was instead the results of a Facebook algorithm that aims to push adverts into the feeds of users likely to be most receptive.
So, Global Witness mocks up some ads which look for psychologists, pilots and so on. Mechanics and pilots are largely male dominated fields of work, psychology female. OK.
So the ad placing mechanism shows more of the mechanic and pilot ads to men, more of the psychology to women. That’s what you want the ad placing mechanism to do, that’s the whole point of the idea in the first place. Advertise to the people likely to be interested thereby lowering the cost of the advertising. You don’t advertise tampons on porn sites and you do advertise fast food delivery around dinner time. That’s just the way it all works.
At which point Global Witness (BTW, a charity supposedly dedicated to ending third world poverty, presumably they’re changing tack now that third world poverty is being dealt with by the capitalism they despise) gets outraged.
Their demand is that advertising must be directed at people who have no interest in the thing being advertised. Ho Hum.