Legal experts are now questioning whether Facebook is liable for helping the defendants potentially violate the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits bias against workers 40 or older who are seeking employment. A Washington employment lawyer said as much in an interview with The Times.
USA law forbids discrimination in employment based on age, race, gender and other legally protected characteristics.
On Wednesday, Facebook's vice president for ads, Rob Goldman, published a blog post that compared targeting advertising online to the standard practice of advertising in magazines or TV shows that are known to appeal to certain demographics.
For example, it spoke with a social media strategist in his 50s who wasn't shown an ad for a job in his field at HubSpot, but the same ad was shown to younger users.
Verizon is one of dozens of the leading employers in the US including Goldman Sachs, Facebook, Target and Amazon that placed recruitment ads for limited aged groups, says a reported released by the New York Times and ProPublica.
Though Facebook in its official statement on its website said the company does not promote or engage in practicing age discrimination. They seek an injunction to "stop America's leading companies from engaging in unlawful age discrimination". "What matters is that marketing is broadly based and inclusive, not simply focused on a particular age group".
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Facebook is also banking on Section 230 of the Federal Communications Decency Act which protects internet companies from liability for third-party content.
"Facebook allows advertisers to select their audience, and then Facebook finds the chosen users with the extensive data it collects about its members", the report added. "We have corrected those ads", Nina Lindsey, an Amazon spokeswoman told ProPublica.
Three workers and a large union sued Facebook, T-Mobile, Amazon, Cox Communications and other companies this week, accusing them of using Facebook's ad-targeting tools to exclude older Americans from job opportunities.
Last month, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company would pause its ad tools' ability to exclude ad targets based on race and ethnicity.
Others insisted the Facebook ads were part of a broader recruitment plan aimed at people of all ages. The limited age range meant that people outside of those ranges would not see the ad on Facebook.
The story was first reported jointly by The New York Times and ProPublica. In Amazon's case, for jobs at its distribution centers, it changed 18-50 to anyone over the age of 18.
Moreover, it is considered a crime in many United States jurisdictions to "aid" or "abet" age discrimination, a provision that could apply to companies like Facebook that distribute such age-based job ads.