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Facebook Faces Claims over Gender Discriminatory Advertising Practices

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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On October 31, 2019, Facebook, Inc. was served with proposed class claims in the Northern District of California alleging that the company discriminates against older and female Facebook users who were purportedly denied the opportunity to receive advertising and information about financial services opportunities.

In the complaint, plaintiff Neuhtah Opiotennione argues that Facebook’s discriminatory practices are overt. Over the past three years, Facebook required all users to report their age and gender as a condition for continued use of Facebook’s services. The complaint then goes on to describe how Facebook then segregates and classifies all of its users based on their gender and age, so that Facebook’s advertisers can select a target audience based on age and gender. Plaintiff argues that Facebook encouraged advertisers, including financial companies, to exclude certain Facebook users from receiving their ads. Specifically, Facebook routinely excluded older users and female users from receiving valuable advertisements about financial services opportunities that were sent, overwhelmingly, to younger male Facebook users.

The suit seeks to represent a class made up of all Facebook users in the U.S. who, in the past three years, could be classified as a woman of any age or at least 40 years old, did not inform Facebook that they were uninterested in receiving advertisements about financial services opportunities and were consequently excluded from the audience selection of one or more advertisements related to financial services opportunities (including bank accounts, insurance, financial services consulting, investments and credit). The suit brings causes of action for age and sex discrimination under Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Civil Code 51.5.

The case is: Neuhtah Opiotennione v. Facebook Inc., Case No. 3:19-cv-07185, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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