Social media giant Facebook has removed Trump campaign ads which refer to an online survey as the “Official 2020 Congressional District Census,” claiming the ads violate the company’s policy on disinformation and interference with the 2020 census.
The Wall Street Journal reports that social media giant Facebook has removed campaign ads from the Trump Make America Great Again Committee that referred to an online survey as a census. Facebook alleges that the ads violated a company policy designed to prevent the spread of disinformation and other interference relating to the nationwide 2020 census which is set to go online next week.
The ads from the Trump campaign began running online last week and asked people to take the “Official 2020 Congressional District Census” which then directed Facebook users to a website for fundraising to support President Trump’s re-election. The ads stated: “The information we gather from this survey will help us craft our strategies for YOUR CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT.”
Facebook stated this week that it was the first time that the company had removed a Trump campaign ad for violating its census interference policy, with a spokesperson stating: “There are policies to prevent confusion around the U.S. Census, and this is an example of those being enforced.”
The banned ads were paid for by Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee of Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and the Republican National Committee. Facebook has come under intense pressure recently to fact check political ads on its platform, which so far it has refused to do. It appears that the removal of the Trump campaign’s ads are the first recent political ads on its platform to be heavily scrutinized and removed.
Some of the campaign ads are still active on the platform while others were removed, as of Thursday afternoon. Democrats on Capitol Hill criticized the ads with House Peaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stating before the ads were removed: “This is, on the part of Facebook, a robust unacceptable interference in the census.” At her weekly news conference, Pelosi added: “I know the profit motive is their business model, but it should not come at the cost of counting who is in our country so that we can provide the services.”
In December, Facebook announced a new policy designed to prevent census interference by banning misleading information about “when and how to participate in the census and the consequences of participating.” The social media firm also banned any ads that portray census participation “as useless or meaningless” or advising people not to participate.
Vanita Gupta, president and chief executive of the Education Fund which was a group that worked with Facebook to develop appropriate rules to prohibit census interference on its platform, criticized the time it took Facebook to remove the Trump campaign’s ads, saying: “While we’re gratified that Facebook shut down Trump’s attempt to sow confusion about how and when to participate in the 2020 Census, it’s disturbing that the ads weren’t immediately removed.”