Elizabeth Warren Uses Facebook’s Ad Policy to Criticize Facebook’s Ad Policy

An online ad with an obvious falsehood was approved quickly by the tech company

Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail earlier this year.
Marc Nozell/Creative Common
By Tobias Carroll / October 13, 2019 6:15 am

Political advertisements aren’t necessarily known for their transparency and willingness to show both sides of an argument. Admittedly, that’s not what they’re there to do — but at the same time, you’d also hope that some kind of system existed to have at least some fact-checking in the mix. That’s been in the news a lot lately — including Facebook’s stated policy that, as Reuters described it, “it does not intend to send politicians’ posts or ads to its third-party fact-checkers.”

If that sets off some alarm bells for you, you’re not alone. And now, as part of her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Elizabeth Warren has used Facebook’s own policy as a way to criticize the tech company’s handling of the issue.

CNN is reporting that Warren’s campaign has unveiled a set of ads on Facebook that begin with the claim that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has endorsed Donald Trump’s bid for re-election. 

“You’re probably shocked,” reads the ad, which has already reached tens of thousands of viewers nationwide. “And you might be thinking, ‘how could this possibly be true?’ Well, it’s not.”

On her Twitter account, Warren acknowledged the ad’s gambit relative to Facebook’s advertising policy, stating that, “This week, we decided to see just how far it goes.”

As she succinctly put it via Twitter, “We intentionally made a Facebook ad with false claims and submitted it to Facebook’s ad platform to see if it’d be approved. It got approved quickly and the ad is now running on Facebook.”

Warren’s rhetoric on the campaign trail has already been critical of large tech companies. With this advertising strategy, she’s used one of Facebook’s liabilities against it, earning press for both her campaign and for Facebook’s hands-off policy regarding political advertising. From both a pragmatic and an idealistic standpoint, it’s a bold maneuver.

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