Elizabeth Warren Runs Fake Ad To Prove Facebook Accepts Money For False Political Ads

by Sarah Bregel
Mario Tama/Getty

Warren’s campaign ran an intentionally fake ad to prove a point about Facebook running misinformation

Elizabeth Warren doesn’t mess around and she just proved that again by trolling Facebook in the most epic way. The Facebook page for Senator Warren’s campaign decided to stoke the debate about the social media exploiting their reach and refusing to remove ads they know are fake. So, they took it upon themselves to turn the tables a bit by running a fake ad. Just, ya know, to see what would happen.

The ad intentionally had a piece of misinformation in it. Facebook has been accused of refusing to remove such ads because they profit by those outrageous claims being shared. The ad read: “Breaking news: Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook just endorsed Donald Trump for re-election.” It went on to say, “You’re probably shocked, and you might be thinking, ‘how could this possibly be true?’ before revealing that it in fact, wasn’t.

“Well, it’s not. (Sorry.),” the ad continues. “But what Zuckerberg *has* done is given Donald Trump free rein to lie on his platform — and then to pay Facebook gobs of money to push out their lies to American voters.

The point is well made, especially because as it points out, if Trump tries to lie in an ad made for TV, (most) networks won’t air it. Facebook on the other hand, basically takes those lies to the bank. “Facebook just cashes Trump’s checks. Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once,” it read. “Now, they’re deliberately allowing a candidate to intentionally lie to the American people. It’s time to hold Mark Zuckerberg accountable — add your name if you agree.”

Warren’s Facebook ad seemed to point directly to an ad which made false assertions about former vice president Joe Biden and claimed without evidence that the 2020 Democratic presidential contender offered $1 billion to Ukraine to help his son Hunter Biden. It also accused several prominent television journalists of supporting impeachment.

The debate waged on Twitter when Facebook tagged Warren on Twitter. They defended their stance, essentially justifying the ad by saying it had also run on some TV stations.

Warren fired back at Facebook, writing in response on Twitter, “You’re making my point here. It’s up to you whether you take money to promote lies. You can be in the disinformation-for-profit business, or you can hold yourself to some standards. In fact, those standards were in your policy. Why the change?”

While it’s clear there is an issue with Facebook choosing to keep ads they know are false, Facebook continues to claim they don’t see a problem. That way, they can simply refuse to take down a problematic ad. What’s more disturbing, though, is that politicians are treated much differently when it comes to the ease at which they are able to make false claims. The Washington Post reported this week that politicians’ statements are not subjected to the same fact-checking scrutiny that other advertisements.

One would think the opposite would be true. However, Facebook keeps claiming that deleting problematic posts would be a violation of free speech and that politicians are already fact-checked, so it shouldn’t be their responsibility.