Facebook on Thursday removed ads by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign that contained a symbol used in Nazi Germany for political prisoners.
The leading social network, which has drawn fire over its hands-off approach to political speech in recent months, said in a statement the campaign messages violated a policy against “organized hate” and were taken down as a result.
Trump ads are discriminatory: Facebook
The company said in a statement the ads violated “our policy against organized hate”.
“Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” said a Facebook company spokesperson.
“We don’t allow symbols that represent hateful organizations or hateful ideologies unless they are put up with context or condemnation,” Facebook head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher said at a House of Representatives committee hearing.
“That’s what we saw in this case with this ad, and anywhere that that symbol is used we would take the same actions.”
Read more: Facebook deletes Trump’s ad
Facebook’s move against the ads targeted when they contended are dangerous far-left groups comes amid heated debate between social platforms and political leaders on what content may be allowed or banned.
In a tweet from a “Trump War Room,” the campaign contended the upside-down red triangle symbol at issue was “widely used” in reference to left-wing activist group Antifa.
Was just made away of this, but on Facebook Trump posted an upside down red triangle alongside his latest unhinged antifa tirade… the symbol has one major historical reference: it was used by Nazis in concentration camps to classify political prisoners inc. communists. pic.twitter.com/NTDJB1PXia
— Natasha Lennard (@natashalennard) June 18, 2020
Trump has threatened to designate Antifa a domestic “terror” organisation, though scholars are not sure it is possible for him to do so.
Antifa members have denied accusations of involvement in “terror”.
Facebook removes Trump ads: move appreciated by watchdog group
Watchdog group Media Matters replied with a tweet saying that is certainly not the case.
Since early this month, the Trump campaign has been running “fearmongering” ads about what it says is a far-left group called “Antifa,” according to Media Matters.
The upside-down red triangle was apparently a new addition to the ad.
“Despite violating Facebook’s terms of service, the ads were approved by Facebook in the first place,” said Media Matters president Angelo Carusone.
The ads showed a red inverted triangle with text asking Facebook users to sign a petition against Antifa, a loosely organised anti-fascist movement.
In a tweet on Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said: “The Nazis used red triangles to identify their political victims in concentration camps. Using it to attack political opponents is highly offensive.”
The Facebook ads were run on pages belonging to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, and also appeared in ads and organic posts on the “Team Trump” page.
Facebook goes against claims of being apolitical
Facebook has steadfastly rejected calls to fact-check politicians including a plea from Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden to clamp down on what he called rampant disinformation from the White House.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said the platform will steer away from moderating political speech but would enforce its rules barring content promoting harm.
Despite this, Facebook removed another 900 social media accounts on Tuesday linked to white supremacy groups after members discussed plans to bring weapons to protests over the police killings of Black people.
The accounts on Facebook and Instagram were tied to the Proud Boys and the American Guard, two hate groups already banned on those platforms.
The Proud Boys were initially considered members of the Alt-right, a re-branding of white nationalist ideology that gained popularity around the time of Trump’s election in 2016. They supported Trump initially, along with other similar groups.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk
What are your views on this? Share with us in the comments bar below.