A Quebec Court Approved A Class Action Lawsuit Against Facebook Over Possible Discrimination

The platform is accused of prejudiced advertising practices.

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
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Quebec's Court of Appeals has granted permission for a class action lawsuit against Facebook to move ahead. Plaintiffs in the case allege that the social media giant engaged in discriminatory advertising practices on the basis of age, race and gender.

They say targeted ads that appeared only to Facebook users falling in a pre-determined age, race or gender brackets may have privileged certain demographics over others when it comes to job and housing opportunities.

Thousands of Quebec residents on Facebook since 2016 who have been hunting for jobs or housing on the site could be implicated in the case.

The Quebec Charter stipulates that every person in the province is "equal in worth and in dignity," meaning specific groups cannot legally be granted identity-based advantages when it comes to employment and housing.

One plaintiff, described as "an avid Facebook user and job seeker," alleges they were skipped over for job ads by the platform's algorithms due to their age and gender. It's unclear how the user found out about the alleged discrimination, but court documents contend the user's "dignity was deeply affected."

The Quebec judge who approved the class action justified her decision, wrote, "new forms of discrimination are likely to emerge in the digital world," and referenced key questions in the case — whether Facebook had broken the law, and whether the platform should be prohibited from "discriminatory targeting of advertisements based on race, gender or age with respect to employment and housing opportunities."

Facebook has up to 60 days from the court ruling on December 22 to take action. The case will go back to the Quebec Superior Court if they don't appeal.

Sofia Misenheimer
MTL Blog, Associate Editor
Sofia Misenheimer is an Associate Editor for MTL Blog focused on gas prices in Montreal and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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