President Donald Trump spent more than $1.5 million on Facebook in the past week, launching a new ad containing information deemed false by Facebook’s own fact-checkers, but that’s OK because Facebook changed its rules last week and now politicians can lie, according to Popular Information.
In the new video ad, Trump attacks Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden, saying: “Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company.”
At least two of Facebook’s fact-checking partners, Politifact and Factcheck.org, reviewed Trump’s assertion about Biden. Both concluded that there was no evidence to support Trump’s claim about Biden, according to Judd Legum, founder of Think Progress and Popular Information, a one-man newsletter about politics and power “for people who are feeling overwhelmed.”
Before last week, Facebook had a rule against running any ads with “false and misleading” content, Legum wrote. This included “Ads, landing pages, and business practices must not contain deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers, or methods.”
Facebook quietly amended the policy on “misinformation” in advertising, allowing it to accept nearly any political ad, including the new one from the Trump campaign.
Now, political ads are ineligible for fact-checking. Facebook says “political figures” are exempt. They can lie.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with Trump at the White House on Sept. 17. He leads one of the tech companies in U.S. regulators’ crosshairs. The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion in July over its privacy policies and started an antitrust investigation.
Trump has criticized Facebook for favoring Democrats and what he views as anti-conservative bias, bundling Zuckerberg’s company in with other huge tech companies and news media. Trump tweeted this on March 19, 2019: “Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats. But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before! #MAGA”.
However, Facebook’s global policy head, top Republican Joel Kaplan, is credited with protecting Facebook against allegations of political bias. Kaplan was nicknamed Facebook’s “Lonely Conservative” by the Wall Street Journal. He runs the company’s lobbying efforts from its Washington, D.C., office.
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Kaplan served as the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy under President George W. Bush. He was considered for a Cabinet position by the Trump transition team, which looked at him to lead the Office of Management and Budget, a former Facebook employee told The Daily Beast.
Zuckerberg has privately said that it would “suck” if Democratic frontrunner Elizabeth Warren is voted into office. Warren has promised to break up big tech companies if voted into office.
Concerned about the potential breakup of Facebook, employees questioned Zuckerberg in a meeting. Transcripts were leaked to The Verge. “I’m certainly more worried that someone is going to try to break up our company,” Zuckerberg said. He promised that he would “go to the mat” and “fight”.
In May 2019, Facebook banned Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan from its social media platforms, saying his account violated its policies against dangerous individuals and organizations. Farrakhan has been accused of making homophobic and anti-Semitic remarks. Along with Farrakhan, others banned from the site included Alex Jones, Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer.
As recently as March, Facebook was charged with housing discrimination by the MAGA-led U.S. government. “The ‘strategic’ censorship announcement felt like Farrakhan was thrown into a group of policy abusers just to seem fair,” Jamarlin Martin wrote on Moguldom. “Facebook had anticipated ‘What about Farrakhan?’ from the so-called far-right. This was a political move and Facebook must be looked at as a massive political actor with profit and unholy elitist motivations at its core. … Facebook wouldn’t care about a potential backlash from Black America in going after Farrakhan.”
A petition on ActionNetwork.org has collected 40,874 signatures to suspend Trump from Facebook and Twitter.