Facebook showed this ad to 95% women. Is that a problem?

Facebook showed this ad to 95% women. Is that a problem?

How algorithmic ad targeting can segregate us.

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In 2019, Facebook settled a lawsuit with civil rights groups following the revelation that advertisers using their platform could use the targeting options to exclude many specific demographics from seeing their ads. It’s now more difficult for an unscrupulous advertiser to use Facebook’s platform to discriminate.

However, even when you remove human bias from the system, Facebook’s ad delivery algorithms can result in biased outcomes. According to research from Northeastern University, Facebook sometimes displays ads to highly skewed audiences based on the content of the ad.

By purchasing ads and inputting neutral targeting options, the researchers found that the algorithmically determined audience for job ads for cleaners, secretaries, nurses, and preschool teachers was mostly women. The job ads for fast food workers, supermarket cashiers, and taxi drivers skewed toward Black users. The studies show that by targeting “relevant” users, these systems can reinforce existing disparities in our interests and our opportunities.

Discrimination through optimization: How Facebook’s ad delivery can lead to skewed outcomes. https://arxiv.org/abs/1904.02095
Ad Delivery Algorithms: The Hidden Arbiters of Political Messaging https://arxiv.org/pdf/1912.04255.pdf
HUD v. Facebook https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/Main/documents/HUD_v_Facebook.pdf
ProPublica: Facebook Ads can still discriminate against women and older workers https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-ads-can-still-discriminate-against-women-and-older-workers-despite-a-civil-rights-settlement
Facebook: Doing More to Protect Against Discrimination in Housing, Employment and Credit Advertising https://about.fb.com/news/2019/03/protecting-against-discrimination-in-ads/
Facebook: How Does Facebook Use Machine Learning to Deliver Ads? https://www.facebook.com/business/news/good-questions-real-answers-how-does-facebook-use-machine-learning-to-deliver-ads/

Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com


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48 Thoughts to “Facebook showed this ad to 95% women. Is that a problem?”

  1. Vox

    To their credit, Facebook makes public all of the ads running across their platforms through their Ad Library. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/ads/library

  2. Sometimes I go to Facebook to see add. So that I can know myself

  3. This is VOX. It is all Trumps fault! Always

  4. I mean each ad because it's based on an algorithm will show more women an ad about makeup because women look at more makeup tutorials look at makeup on Amazon I dont see how people are surprised

  5. Facebook is cunningly clever.

  6. Do people have freewill when an algorithm can predict their future behaviors?

  7. funny a pop up ad for jobs at goodwill during this.

  8. Every time, I can easily understand thanks to an elaborate video.

  9. Isn't this partly solved by GDPR?

  10. Nothing bad to talk about, it's the nature of advertising. You see a banana, you eat it. You wouldn't use it as a surfboard. If black men have historically worked as chauffeurs then naturally vacancy posts will be directed to that demographic. Unless there are sudden catalysts that are attracting more females to look in that specific line for example, things are normal as usual. No discrimination at all. Perhaps everyone is discriminated against Facebook .

  11. So the Algorithm is sexist/racist/classist/ageist and all sort of prejudice. They used to say Algorithms will be analyzing things logically and without any prejudice. Turns out no apparently discrimination is no longer a human trait it is now in computers.

  12. Why not just ask FB for the algorithm. I bet it has good documentation.

  13. Wait but in Europe (at least Germany) you have to actively except personalized ads on every side you are

  14. This company is worth billions for being able to target specific audiences. The marketing data bubble will burst.

  15. I watch joe rogan I’m 21 from Scotland and have recently thought about working with children, if joe rogan worked in a kindergarten better believe the kids would be safe

  16. Uhm here's an idea STOP relying on Facebook and Twitter ads to give you stuff you might want and just LOOK FOR IT!!!

  17. Its only seems to be a problem if it affects women.

  18. Women and men like different things SHOCKER!!!!!

  19. I love you Joss Fong <3 <3 <3

  20. advertising should be illegal…it's a scam…built by a racist system

  21. Hot mature singles in your area! Swipe right to see pics!

    Barbara, 62 – Please be discreet. I only want YOU to see.

  22. If you don't like that facebook has lots of information about you, then just delete it!! It's easy, free and it deletes everything about you! Facebook is free, yet really useful. the only profit they make is with ads, so obviously they want to target advertisers with high precision ad targeting! Facebook doesn't shape our society! It copies it! Let's admit it, men care more about gym memberships than women, and women care more about makeup than men!

  23. Men and woman skew toards different kinds of jobs when given the choice. There is nothing wrong with that.

  24. Only for people who use Facebook despite a world of reasons not to.

  25. this is not a problem, think from the perspective of the advertiser.

  26. Lol I'm a kindergarten teacher that listens to Joe Rogan…. looks like that algorithm was wrong for me.

  27. Im sure if some horrible job ad like sewage worker is shown to 95% men, we wouldnt have these outrage videos

  28. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten an ad that I was actually interested in. Except maybe a movie, or TV ad.

  29. Watched the video. Really interesting. But boy was the title a soft ragebait for clicks.

  30. this is why I use adbock and also don't use facebook or instagram or any social media

  31. I don't get it. When you purchase ad space on Facebook you have to specify which users to target. The ad buyer is doing the targeting, not some nebulous automatic algorithm. All Fb does is to make sure it goes to the segments you want target.

    Is this really news to people that marketers segment the population to reach their intended audience?

  32. The power that fb has over our lives is unacceptable.

  33. Ah yes, another reason to put on the list for why Facebook is awful, and why only old people, businesses, and musicians go on there.

  34. I gotta say, there’s a reason y’all just won some awards. This is a different kind of journalism

  35. I worry how Facebook sees me. I get conservative republican ads when I am a progressive democrat. I wonder if it's because I use Reddit religiously?

  36. I've also noticed that there are ads promoting democrat campaigns for Vox viewers and have yet to see any promoting Republican candidates.

  37. How does this discriminate? I’m kinda curious, because Vox didn’t really explain. And, this is Facebooks company I feel they can do whatever they like.

  38. I like that my ads are all over the place because I never interact with any ad

  39. not a problem. it's a souless algorithm with no brain, meant to advertise. besides, if you're supporting mark zuckerberg you kind of deserve it

  40. The algorithm is a mirror. It is based on what you looked at on facebook or the interests of people that have similar interests to you.

  41. Manipulative title. Despite video being about a study on how facebook ad mechanism works, it only reads about women and how it could be "a problem". You couldn't be any more obvious about your aggressive feminist agenda if you tried.

  42. Cleaner role goes to women. Gold.

  43. I left facebook years ago, most people are Just putting up a facade there.

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