Joe Biden’s presidential campaign chided Facebook after the social media giant refused to remove an ad released by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, asserting that it is allowing “deliberately misleading material to corrupt its platform.”
The ad spot was rejected by CNN last week, after the network said that the spot “makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets.”
In the ad, called “Biden Corruption,” a narrator says, “Joe Biden promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fire the prosecutor investigating his son’s company.” Trump’s campaign launched the ad in light of the whistleblower scandal that led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch an impeachment inquiry.
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Biden campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo said in a statement that “the spread of objectively false information to influence public opinion poisons the public discourse and chips away at our democracy. Whether it originates from the Kremlin or Trump Tower, these lies and conspiracy theories threaten to undermine the integrity of our elections in America. It is unacceptable for any social media company to knowingly allow deliberately misleading material to corrupt its platform.”
The Biden campaign has been requesting that traditional and social media companies remove or reject the ad, and also has been contacting local stations and station groups in early primary states where the spot has been running.
Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public policy director, global elections, wrote in a letter to the Biden campaign that their “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. Thus, when a politician speaks or makes an ad, we do not send it to third-party fact checkers.”
She added that if a politician seeks to share a viral hoax, “like a link to an article or a video or photo, that has been previously debunked,” Facebook will demote the content, display related information from fact checkers and reject its inclusion in advertisements.
“That is different from a politician’s own claim or statement—even if the substance of that claim has been debunked elsewhere,” she wrote. “If the claim is made directly by a politician on their Page, in an ad or on their website, it is considered direct speech and ineligible for our third-party fact checking program.”
The letter was sent to Biden Campaign Manager Greg Schultz and Deputy General Counsel Lynn Eisenberg.
She wrote that even though ads do not go through a fact-checking process, they still have to meet Facebook’s advertising policies. She wrote that a Trump campaign spot was rejected last fall for “violating our policy against sensational content.”
In a speech on Wednesday, Biden for the first time called for Trump to be impeached. His campaign has been trying to go on offense as Trump and his campaign have tried to push the Biden-Ukraine narrative.
Trump’s campaign sent out a tweet linked to a clip of an interview that one of the Biden campaign advisers, Symone Sanders, gave to CNN. The campaign said that Sanders “will continue to refuse to explain how his son was qualified for a $50,000-per-month, no-show job with a Ukrainian gas company when he had no experience in Ukraine and no experience in the gas market.”
Sanders responded, “The lies the Trump campaign have repeatedly told about VP Biden and his family have been debunked time and time again. They are desperately trying to make these smears and lies a thing. We aren’t playing this game.”
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