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Gender Bias In Facebook’s Ads Tools, Shows A New Study

Gender Bias In Facebook’s Ads Tools, Shows A New Study
A study that was published recently and conducted by university researchers claimed that users of Facebook, the largest social media platform of the world, may not be learning about jobs for which they are qualified since the tools used by the company have the ability to disproportionately direct ads to a particular gender “beyond what can be legally justified”.
An Instacart delivery job advertisement was directed by Facebook to an audience that was heavily comprised of female users of the platform and a Domino’s Pizza delivery job ad was directed by the platform to a viewership that was dominated by heavily by male users, claimed the study cutting this example in one of three examples that generated similar results.
The study by University of Southern California researchers said that mostly women drivers make up the fleet of Instacart while mostly men drivers make up the fleet of Domino’s.
The researchers claimed that when the same ads were placed on Microsoft Corp’s LinkedIn website, the ads for delivery jobs at Domino’s was directed to a crowd that was composed of about the same proportion of women. This was also noticed in the case of the Instacart ad.
“Facebook’s ad delivery can result in skew of job ad delivery by gender beyond what can be legally justified by possible differences in qualifications,” the study said.
The study added that the results of this research also strongly indicated that the algorithms that are used by Facebook could be violating anti-discrimination laws of the United States.
The company accounts for “many signals to try and serve people ads they will be most interested in, but we understand the concerns raised in the report,” said Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne while reacting to the study report.
Controls that does not allow clients from excluding some groups from seeing job, housing and other ads have been tightened by Facebook even as it faces lawsuits and regulatory probes on discrimination through ad targeting.
But the continued bias in in artificial intelligence (AI) software choosing which users see an ad still remains a concern for researchers.
They study their AI for what the tech industry calls “fairness”, Facebook and LinkedIn both have said.
The study’s results “align with our own internal review of our job ads ecosystem”, said LinkedIn engineering vice president Ashvin Kannan.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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