A California appeals court ruled on September 21 that the Facebook administration may face a lawsuit concerning its advertising algorithms. This decision was reached in a class action lawsuit filed against Facebook in 2020, where the platform was accused of violating civil rights by not displaying insurance advertisements to women and the elderly.
Samantha Liapes’ Case
The lawsuit revolves around an incident involving Samantha Liapes, a 48-year-old individual who sought insurance services on Facebook. However, the social network did not display insurance ads to her due to her age and gender, according to the plaintiff. In the September 21 ruling, the Court of Appeal overturned the previous court’s decision, which had exempted the company from liability, citing its inability to control illegal user-generated content. The appeals court argued that Facebook actively shapes and develops content, stating, “Facebook does not simply distribute content as a publisher, <..> it creates, shapes or develops content.”
Past Litigation and Reforms
This is not the first time Facebook’s advertising algorithms have been a subject of legal scrutiny, notes NIXsolutions. In 2018, a federal lawsuit accused the platform of housing discrimination, with subsequent investigations substantiating these claims. In 2022, Facebook settled with American authorities, and in early 2023, it introduced updates to its advertising platform aimed at eliminating discriminatory practices.