On Thursday, Facebook announced that it took down ads from President Donald Trump’s campaign that contained a symbol associated with Nazis.
“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate,” a Facebook representative said in a statement. “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”
Facebook took action against the ads run by Trump’s re-election campaign for breaching its policies on hate. The ads attacked what Trump’s campaign described as ” Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups” featuring the red downward-pointing triangles/
On Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League said the triangle ”is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps.”
Responding to the criticism, campaign officials contended that the symbol is widely used by Antifa, a loosely organized coalition of anti-fascists, although it does not appear to be commonly used. Trump has, without evidence, blamed antifa for violence at protests over the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.
According to Facebook’s political ad library, a series of ads featuring the offending symbol were put up on Trump’s Facebook campaign page ”Team Trump” on Wednesday, and VicePresident Mike Pence’s Facebook page.
The paid ad was seen around one million times on Trump’s page alone, according to data from Facebook.
ADL, an organization that fights anti-Semitism, denounced the ads in a statement.
“Whether aware of the history or meaning, for the Trump campaign to use a symbol – one which is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps — to attack his opponents is offensive and deeply troubling,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a statement. “It is not difficult for one to criticize their political opponent without using Nazi-era imagery. We implore the Trump campaign to take greater caution and familiarize themselves with the historical context before doing so. Ignorance is not an excuse for appropriating hateful symbols.”
In response to the removal of the ad, Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for the Trump campaign, emphasised the red triangle is a “symbol used by Antifa.
The campaign pointed to some links of t-shirt, sticker, and magnet websites that sell merchandise with the symbol.
Murtaugh added, “We would note that Facebook still has an inverted red triangle emoji in use, which looks exactly the same, so it’s curious that they would target only this ad.”
Facebook’s removal of the ad comes after the company was scrutinised by its own employees and business partners for not removing or modifying a post by Trump that said: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Facebook employees who protested the decision argued that the post from Trump violates Facebook’s community criteria, which prevent language that provokes serious violence.
Facebook has also come under fire for its policy of enabling political ads containing false statements, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg maintaining that the company should not be “arbiters of truth.”