Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has found a way to use Facebook’s policy against fact-checking politicians against it. Her team has gotten an ad approved by Facebook calling out the policy and how it could be harming America’s citizens. The ad has been running on Facebook since last week and has already been viewed 180,000 to 750,000 times, according to Facebook’s Ad Library.
The politician advertising policy in question treats posts and ads from politicians differently than those of the regular public when it comes to false or misleading information. Ads with claims debunked by Facebook’s third-party fact-checking system are prohibited, unless they come from a politician under the belief that any statement from a political figure is important to the public interest. Instead, Facebook “demotes” politician-generated ad content that has previously been determined to be false.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, said of the policy, “We rely on third-party fact-checkers to help reduce the spread of false news and other types of viral misinformation, like memes or manipulated photos and videos. We don’t believe, however, that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny.”
Warren’s Facebook ad begins with an image of Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and President Donald Trump and says: “Breaking news: Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook just endorsed Donald Trump for re-election.” The ad’s text then quickly acknowledges that the endorsement claim is false, and says, “If Trump tries to lie in a TV ad, most networks will refuse to air it. But Facebook just cashes Trump’s checks.”
The ad is referring to a Trump campaign ad featuring claims about former Vice President Joe Biden on Facebook that said, “Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company.” There is no credible evidence for the assertion and the Biden campaign requested that Facebook and other sites remove that ad due to misinformation. Facebook refused, citing its policy. Facebook isn’t covered by the FCC rules governing political ads on broadcast networks.