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Facebook takes down Donald Trump campaign ads for violating policies against 'organised hate'

News Agencies | Updated on: 19 June 2020, 7:41 IST
Facebook takes down Donald Trump campaign ads

Facebook on Thursday (local time) deactivated dozens of advertisements placed by US President Donald Trump's re-election campaign, including a symbol once used by the Nazis to designate political prisoners in concentration camps, which the company said breached its policies against organised hate.

The ads, which attacked what the Trump campaign described as "Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups," featured an upside-down triangle, CNN reported.

The Anti-Defamation League said on Thursday that the triangle "is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps."

"We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate. Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group's symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol," Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, told CNN Business.

The ads targeted the far-left group Antifa, calling on Trump supporters to back the President's calls to designate the group a terrorist organization.

Responding to criticism of the ad earlier on Thursday, the Trump campaign claimed the red triangle was "a symbol widely used by Antifa."

According to Facebook's political ad library, a set of ads featuring the offending symbol began running on Wednesday on Trump's main Facebook page, the "Team Trump" campaign page, and Vice-President Mike Pence's Facebook page.

The paid ad was seen almost one million times in Facebook users' feeds on Trump's page alone, according to data from Facebook.

In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for the Trump campaign, insisted that the red triangle is a "symbol used by Antifa".

The campaign pointed to several links of t-shirt, sticker, and magnet websites that sell merchandise with the symbol.

Murtaugh added, "We would note that Facebook still has an inverted red triangle emoji in use, which looks exactly the same, so it's curious that they would target only this ad."

Facebook has long prohibited hate speech and symbolism on its platform, but the company has faced blowback at times for being too permissive. In this case, the company's move against the Trump ads came after a concerted push, including by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a lengthy post cited by The Washington Post this month defending his handling of the president's use of his platform, said he worried about an approach "leading us to editorialize on the content we don't like even if it doesn't violate our policies."

Yet in a very similar move, Twitter last month applied a label fact-checking the president's misleading tweets about mail-in ballots, in the midst of demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, that looting could lead to "shooting."


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First published: 19 June 2020, 7:41 IST