Facebook’s New False Ad Policy Conspicuously Exempts Politicians (Video)

Last year, news broke about evidence confirming Russian buyers used Facebook advertising as propaganda leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

In response, Facebook presented Congress 3,000 Russian-purchased ads through 470 phony pages and accounts intended to exploit America’s racial divisions.

Facebook said at least $100,000 was spent for this purpose, a mere fraction of its political advertising during the 2016 campaign.

This motivated the House Intelligence Committee last November to release a sample of Facebook ads the Russian government-affiliated Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg troll farm, purchased about issues like immigration, religion, and race, for and against presidential contenders Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, and Donald Trump.

More than 11 million people between 2015 and 2017 viewed these ads.

Moreover, Russia used Facebook ads to help Trump win Michigan and Wisconsin, and to exploit our racial and religious divides.

One might assume going forward Facebook would prevent its format from being used to disseminate such lies and political propaganda.

However, the contrary is the case.

Last week Facebook quietly changed its advertising policies to make it easier for politicians to use the popular social media site to promulgate blatant lies.

And the Trump campaign wasted no time doing just that.

The following attack on former Vice President Joe Biden posts a video that states, falsely:

Credit: Popular.info

Under Facebook’s new rules, there are now 32 “Prohibited Content” categories.

Number 13 on the list is “Misinformation,” which explains:

“Facebook prohibits ads that include claims debunked by third-party fact checkers or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise. Advertisers that repeatedly post information deemed to be false may have restrictions placed on their ability to advertise on Facebook. Find out more about Fact Checking on Facebook here.

“Examples: Ads containing claims which are debunked by third party fact checkers; ads which include misinformation about vaccines as identified and verified by global health organizations such as the World Health Organization.”

Facebook contracts with third-party Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network, as well as Politifact, and Factcheck.org, which concluded Trump’s ad claim against Biden is false.

Politifact wrote:

“Hunter Biden did do work in Ukraine, but we found nothing to suggest Vice President Biden acted to help him.”

The following day, Factcheck.org wrote:

“[T]here is no evidence that Hunter Biden was ever under investigation or that his father pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin on his behalf.”

Yet Facebook’s official fact-checker is none other than Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s far-right site Daily Caller, known for inaccurate reporting targeting Democrats.

Left-leaning fact-checkers are conspicuously absent from Facebook.

In its hunt for media bias against conservatives, Facebook hired former Republican Senator Jon Kyl.

It appeared to expend no effort studying bias against liberals.

Moreover, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg invited to his home to discuss “partnerships” and “free speech” Tucker Carlson and Brent Bozell.

(Carlson recently claimed on his show immigrants are making America “dirtier.” Bozell accused Barack Obama of looking like a “skinny ghetto crackhead.”)

In spite of this, a Facebook spokesperson informed Popular Information the Biden ad in question does not violate Facebook’s policies because political candidates’ advertising is ineligible for fact-checking.

Ineligible?

Before its rule change, Facebook adhered to the following policy:

“Ads, landing pages, and business practices must not contain deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers, or methods.”

The Biden ad clearly violates this.

Under its new rules, however, Facebook now operates under the following:

“[Facebook] prohibits ads that include claims debunked by third-party fact checkers or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise.”

Notice the reference to fact-checkers.

“Political figures” are now exempt from Facebook’s new rules.

So Massachusetts Sen. and presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, decided to test those new rules.

She tweeted Saturday:

“Facebook changed their ads policy to allow politicians to run ads with known lies – explicitly turning the platform into a disinformation-for-profit machine. This week, we decided to see just how far it goes. We intentionally made a Facebook ad with false claims.”

Her ad:

Mark Zuckerberg has not endorsed Trump.

That’s Warren’s point.

She encourages antitrust action against major tech companies and has advocated Facebook to be fragmented into smaller entities.

Last week, leaked audio of a July Facebook meeting revealed Zuckerberg threatened to “go to the mat” and “fight” if Warren is elected president, and described Warren’s antitrust policies as an “existential” threat and said it would “suck for us.”

Warren responded:

“What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.” 

She added:

“It’s up to you whether you take money to promote lies. You can be in the disinformation-for-profit business, or you can hold yourself to some standards. In fact, those standards were in your policy. Why the change?”

As Daniel Walters asserted in his Raw Story piece “Conspiracy theorists, hoaxers and Trump have twisted Facebook, YouTube and the news to toxic levels — and it’s only getting worse:”

“It may be getting harder and harder to figure out the truth, but at least this much is clear: It’s a good time to be a liar.”

Social media fake news played a pivotal role in the 2016 presidential election’s outcome.

It’s even worse today.

And it isn’t just happening in the United States.

Far-right activists in Brazil are using YouTube to spread the lie that public health workers are spreading the Zika virus.

In Myanmar, government soldiers utilize phony Facebook accounts to justify ethnic cleansing, stating Muslim minorities are raping Buddhist women.

We can’t ignore the fact that lately the United States has suffered several gun massacres fomented and promoted on internet forums like 4chan and 8chan.

We don’t need to reach that far back for further examples.

Again, quoting Raw Story:

“A lie doesn’t need to be believed. It just needs to create enough doubt that the truth becomes polluted. With enough pollution, it’s impossible to see what’s right in front of you.”

Image credit: www.flickr.com

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Op-Ed News, Liberal Nation Rising, and Zoedune.