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Facebook takes down fake political ad meant to test its fact checking

It highlighted Facebook's reluctance to fact-check politicians.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
October 27, 2019
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AP Photo/Ben Margot

Facebook's stance on truth in political ads has been put to the test. The social media giant has removed a 'stunt' ad from a Political Action Committee, the Really Online Lefty League, that falsely claimed Republican Senator Lindsey Graham supported the Green New Deal proposed by some Democrats. A company spokesman told Reuters that the ad was eligible for a fact-checking review since it came from a political action group rather than a politician.

The ad was prompted by a line of questioning from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who asked Mark Zuckerberg at an October 23rd House hearing if Facebook would let her get away with posting a misleading ad about Graham.

The takedown suggests that Facebook is consistent in its approach to truthful ads. However, it also underscores the controversy over its refusal to block demonstrably false ads from politicians. It may not want to fuel accusations of bias, or wade into the debate over what constitutes a lie. At the same time, critics have argued that this hands-off approach isn't really neutral. It reportedly favors those candidates most willing to lie, since they can cheat without being held to account like they would with TV ads. In this view, Facebook is content to let misinformation spread so long as it comes from certain sources.

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