Discrimination in Online Advertising: A Multidisciplinary Inquiry


Amit Datta, Anupam Datta, Jael Makagon, Deirdre K. Mulligan, Michael Carl Tschantz ;
Proceedings of the 1st Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency, PMLR 81:20-34, 2018.


We explore ways in which discrimination may arise in the targeting of job-related advertising, noting the potential for multiple parties to contribute to its occurrence. We then examine the statutes and case law interpreting the prohibition on advertisements that indicate a preference based on protected class, and consider its application to online advertising. We focus on its interaction with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides interactive computer services with immunity for providing access to information created by a third party. We argue that such services can lose that immunity if they target ads toward or away from protected classes without explicit instructions from advertisers to do so.

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