On April 29, Popular Information identified hundreds of Trump campaign ads running on Facebook that were false. The ads claimed that Democrats want to repeal the Second Amendment.
There are, of course, no elected Democrats at the national level calling for "a repeal of the Second Amendment." Therefore, this ad violates Facebook's prohibition on "false or misleading content." (Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens did call for repealing the Second Amendment, but he is a Republican appointed by former Republican president Gerald Ford.)
I brought the ad to the attention of Facebook, and a spokesperson promised to get back to me. The company never provided a substantive response but, by the next day, the language in all of Trump's ads had changed, and all the ads were set to "inactive."
The new ads changed “Democrats have admitted what they truly want: a repeal of the Second Amendment.” to “Democrats have been telling us that they only want ‘gun control.’ But the truth is finally out. Now some are now [sic] proudly calling for a REPEAL OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT.”
This is slightly more accurate since there are some Democrats somewhere who want the Second Amendment repealed, even if the party as a whole is not embracing that position. (A recent poll also found 8% of Republicans want to repeal the Second Amendment.)
After this incident, the Trump campaign appeared to scale back their ambitions on Facebook. In the first week of May, Trump's ads promoted his birthday card and a dinner giveaway. The political attacks had vanished.
But today, Trump's original Second Amendment ads are back.
The Trump campaign appears to be counting on the fact that Facebook does not have actual people reviewing their ads before publication. There is nothing to stop them from simply re-running the same false ad.
Somehow, this newsletter has more resources available than Facebook to review Trump's ads manually.
An informed public is the cornerstone of a functioning Democracy. Facebook's neglect is putting us at risk of a 2016 repeat.
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