Warren runs a false Facebook ad to protest false Facebook ads

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By Nate Ashworth

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren's Democratic presidential campaign this week challenged Facebook's policy that exempts politicians' ads from fact-checking, by running ads on the social media platform containing the false claim that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg endorsed President Donald Trump's re-election bid.

Posting an ad with a demonstrable falsehood, she aims to highlight Facebook's dubious new policy. "But Facebook just cashes Trump's checks".

"Facebook changed their ads policy to allow politicians to run ads with known lies-explicitly turning the platform into a disinformation-for-profit machine", Warren asserted. He also described her antitrust proposal as an "existential" threat and said it would "suck for us". Facebook formally put the policy in place last September, ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. According to Facebook's ad library, the first paid post went up Thursday and more than a dozen identical ones followed Friday, each garnering tens of thousands of impressions.

Warren, who campaigns on breaking up big tech companies like Facebook and Google because they have an outsized influence, tweeted on Saturday that the fake ad was created to see "just how far" Facebook's policy would let her campaign go.

The Washington Post article which Warren shared explains that "as Facebook cracked down on disinformation flooding its social media platforms, executives chose to codify a key loophole: Politicians remained free to lie at will-unbound by the rules created to stop everyday users from peddling viral falsehoods".


The exemption has drawn particular attention due to Facebook's decision to allow Trump to run an ad that was rejected by CNN for promoting a "demonstrably false" narrative about Joe Biden. In a statement Friday responding to Warren's ad, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told CNN that "if Senator Warren wants to say things she knows to be untrue, we believe Facebook should not be in the position of censoring that speech".

Warren's stunt came as Facebook faced criticism from conservatives and progressives alike.

"Our approach is grounded in Facebook's fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is", the New York Times reports Facebook's head of global elections policy, Katie Harbath, wrote in the letter to the Biden campaign. In March, Facebook took down ads from her campaign that called for the company to be broken up, but later restored them.

In leaked audio obtained by The Verge, Zuckerberg said at a recent internal meeting that, should Warren seek to implement these plans, Facebook would "go to the mat and fight".

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