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Facebook could be sued for biased ad algorithm

The case was filed in 2020 and accused Facebook of violating civil rights laws


A California state court of appeals reported last week that a case against Facebook for its discriminatory ad algorithm.

Is Facebook’s ad algorithm biased?

A class action lawsuit was filed against Facebook in 2020, which accused the company of not showing insurance ads to women and older people in violation of civil rights laws.

At the center of the case is a 48-year-old woman, Samantha Liapes, who turned to Facebook to find an insurance provider. The lawsuit alleges that the app’s ad delivery system didn’t show Liapes ads for insurance due to her age and gender.

On September 21 2023, the appeals court reversed a previous ruling that said Section 230 (which protects online platforms from legal liability if users post illegal content) shields Facebook from accountability.

The appeals court stated that the case “adequately” alleges that the social media platform “knew insurance advertisers intentionally targeted its ads based on user’s age and gender”, putting the social media platform in violation of a civil rights act.

According to the court, there is little difference between the social media platform’s ad tools and their targeting capabilities. They stated that the app “does not merely proliferate and disseminate content as a publisher … it creates, shapes, or develops content” with the tools, making it discrimination.

Facebook has been taken to court several times in the past for its biased ad algorithm. In 2022, the company settled with the US government and launched a new ad distribution system to address housing discrimination earlier this year. How long will the company continue to fight off these attacks before they realize it’s time to change its algorithms?

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