Is Facebook Sexist?

September 09, 2021 | 3 minutes read

Facebook is gender-biased in terms of handling job adverts.

Campaign group Global Witness has accused  Facebook of breaking equality law in relation to its handling of job advertisements. The campaign group said that the social media site failed to halt the discriminatory targeting of advertisements and its algorithm was biased in choosing who would see them and where they would appear.

In an experiment conducted by Global Witness, almost all Facebook users were men who were shown the advertisements of mechanics and nursery nurses were seen exclusively by women.

Earlier this year some links shared on Facebook were also spreading misinformation about Coronavirus.

Experiment Approves the Facebook Algorithms as biased:

Facebook however says its system shows the people the ads they may be interested in. But it seems like the company has generated algorithms that are promoting stereotypical gender roles.

The company conducting the experiment further stated that it had submitted four jobs advertisements for approval, asking to show one to women and the others to anyone over the age of 55.  The group also specified that the ads should be seen by UK adults only.  So, in this experiment, it was entirely up to Facebook to show the ads.

Of the people shown an ad for:

  • Mechanics, 96% were men
  • Airplane pilots, 75% were men
  • psychologists,77% were women

A digital-rights lawyer acting for Global Witness Ravi Naik said that Facebook advertising mechanisms might lead to breaching equality law:

“That is massively consequential because Facebook’s entire business model is advertising and if that business model results in discriminatory practices, that undermines the ability of Facebook to operate properly in this country,” he added.

facebook-algorithms-gender-biased
Facebook algorithms are accused of being gender-biased

Facebook Algorithms are Promoting Gender-Biased Practices:

The algorithms of Facebook are designed to make sure that many people click on the advertisements. But it seems like the faulty design of the Facebook algorithm is perpetuating gender biasedness in terms of gender roles that are ingrained in the fabric of society. This might create problems for female as well as male users who want to adopt different roles other than expected from them.  

Facebook is one of the most used social media sites with currently 2.701 billion active users monthly. Thus making it one of the most popular places for marketing and sales for advertisers. It is time that Facebook should alter or transform its algorithms in a way that they propagate more inclusivity in terms of gender equality.

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