Facebook has confirmed that Donald Trump can lie all he wants in his ads, as long as he doesn’t curse. The Trump campaign has been busy putting out ads on Facebook ever since a formal impeachment inquiry was initiated by the House on September 24.
So far, Trump has spent nearly $1 million in these ads. The problem is that most of these ads are actually false or misleading in nature. It also seems that Joe Bidden has been the main target. One of the ads even refers to the former vice president as a “b**ch”, something that goes against Facebook’s policy against the use of profanity.
The profanity-laced ad has since been taken down. However, the Trump campaign re-edited the ad, removed the curse words, and replaced them with unfounded claims about Joe Biden. The ad was accepted and has been live for a few days. Facebook says that it does not submit ads from politicians to third-party services for fact-checking. It’s therefore impossible for the social media platform to know which ad contains lies.
One of the most outrageous claims made in one of these videos is that Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired a prosecutor investigating a local company linked to his son. There is no basis for this claim. Besides, the video doesn’t provide any backing evidence. In addition to this, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org, two of Facebook’s main fact-checking partners, have already debunked this claim.
It’s a bit confusing why this ad has been allowed to run. In its Misinformation Policy, Facebook clearly states that ads that include claims already debunked by third-party fact-checkers are prohibited. The policy goes on to note that even claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise in certain circumstances may be rejected.
Seeing that the ad by the Trump campaign has already been debunked by two of Facebook’s major fact checkers, it begs the question why it’s still running. Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs and Communication, however, argues that these rules don’t apply to politicians. It seems like the Trump campaign is leveraging on this loophole quite well to try and discredit Biden. Between September 25 and October 1, the Trump campaign has churned out over $1.6 million in ads. This is quite high, especially compared to other candidates.
For instance, Joe Biden, one of the front runners in the race for the Democratic ticket, has only spent $122,000 during the same period. Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, has only churned out $285,000 on Facebook ads. It also looks like the Trump campaign has stepped up its ad strategy after the impeachment inquiry was initiated. Facebook says that it doesn’t want to play “political referee.” In essence, the company feels that any message put out by a politician should reach his or her supporters the way he or she intends. This is the reason why these messages are not fact-checked at all.