Facebook, Inc. announced on Thursday that it will ban advertisements from The Committee to Defend the President, a pro-President Donald Trump super PAC (political action committee), for violating its rule on misinformation.
The ban will be in effect from August 1 till November 1, lasting for a minimum of 90 days.
Andy Stone, Facebook’s policy communications manager, said in a statement, “As a result of the Committee to Defend the President’s repeated sharing of content determined by third-party fact-checkers to be false, they will not be permitted to advertise for a period of time on our platform.”
Stone didn’t specify which post triggered the ban.
Facebook’s fact-checking policies do not prevent politicians and political candidates from lying on ads. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has defended this policy in the past stating that Facebook shouldn’t be “arbiters of truth.”
However, Facebook’s policies do subject political groups, including super PACs, to fact-checking by third-party groups.
The policy states, “Taking action against repeat offenders: Pages and websites that repeatedly share false news will have some restrictions, including having their distribution reduced. They may also have their ability to monetize and advertise removed, and their ability to register as a news Page removed.”
The Committee to Defend the President has nearly 1 million followers on Facebook. Since 2018, it has spent more than US$300,000 on pro-Trump ads that have attracted much criticism from Democrats.
In October 2019, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign wrote a letter to Facebook criticizing the ad run by the The Committee to Defend the President.
The ad accused Biden, without any evidence, of blackmailing US allies and engaging in misconduct as a former vice president. It also claimed that Biden’s son Hunter was a board member of a Ukrainian energy company. The ad ended with the phrase, “Send Quid Pro Joe Biden into retirement.”
The Committee vows to move to other platforms
The super PAC’s chairman Ted Harvey told Fox News that Facebook’s action represents its determination to “restrict free speech and attack those who dare to support President Trump.”
“When their liberal, Trump-hating ‘fact-checkers’ complained about the Committee’s first ad for correctly calling out Joe Biden, we changed it. When those same ‘fact-checkers’ didn’t bother to check the facts or even watch our second ad, they still banned us.
“The Committee will not be silenced by ‘woke’ Silicon Valley elites, as we expose the real Joe Biden. We have reallocated our entire Facebook budget to other online platforms, so Americans can see the whole truth – not just Facebook’s truth,” Harvey went on to add.
The ban comes a day after Facebook also removed a post from Trump’s official Facebook page stating that it “includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful COVID misinformation.”
The post included a video of Trump telling Fox & Friends that schools should remain open.
“My view is that schools should be open. If you look at children, children are almost – and I would almost say definitely – but almost immune from this disease,” Trump said in the now removed video.
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