Don’t Trust Zuck: Facebook Failed to Block Ads Containing Death Threats to Election Workers

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg, 33, was called to testify after it was reported that 87 million …
Alex Wong/Getty Images

While social media giants are known for acting quickly and without hesitation to censor certain information being posted during election season — such as the bombshell news story about Hunter Biden’s infamous “laptop from hell” — Facebook reportedly failed to block ads containing death threats to election workers ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Facebook failed to block 75 percent of ads “explicitly calling for violence against and killing of US election workers” ahead of the midterm elections, according to an investigation by Global Witness and the New York University Tandon School of Engineering’s Cybersecurity for Democracy (C4D) team.

“The ads contained ten real-life examples of death threats issued against election workers and included statements that people would be killed, hanged or executed, and that children would be molested,” the report said.

Global Witness explained that it submitted the content as ads in both English and Spanish and that Facebook approved nine of the ten ads in English and six of the ten ads in Spanish.

“Once Facebook approved the ads for publishing, Global Witness and C4D removed the ads before they would be displayed on the platform in order to avoid spreading hateful and violent speech,” the report added.

A spokesperson for Facebook (now known as Meta) told Global Witness that “content that incites violence against election workers or anyone else has no place” on the company’s platforms.

“This is a small sample of ads that are not representative of what people see on our platforms,” the Facebook spokesperson said.

“Content that incites violence against election workers or anyone else has no place on our apps and recent reporting has made clear that Meta’s ability to deal with these issues effectively exceeds that of other platforms,” the spokesperson added. “We remain committed to continuing to improve our systems.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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