Facebook has been taking heat all week for its decision to allow politicians to make false statements in paid advertisements. Now the Democratic senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is taking the fight to the social media company’s own turf by taking out a series of Facebook ads that make false statements about Facebook and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg.
“Breaking news: Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook just endorsed Donald Trump for re-election,” the ads read, above a photograph of a recent Oval Office meeting between the billionaire tech executive and the president.
Elizabeth Warren is now running FB ads with a false statement about Mark Zuckerberg and FB endorsing Trump for president, to draw attention to FB's controversial policy allowing politicians to make false statements in ads. https://t.co/hulwrb3cc3 pic.twitter.com/6zsPwXESKR— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) October 11, 2019
The statement isn’t true, but as the Facebook executive Nick Clegg revealed late last month, the company’s policies banning false statements from paid advertisements do not apply to politicians.
The exemption has drawn particular attention due to Facebook’s decision to allow Trump to run an ad that was rejected by CNN for promoting a “demonstrably false” narrative about Joe Biden.
Warren’s ad does correct the record – neither Facebook nor Zuckerberg has endorsed Trump – but goes on to argue her point: that “Facebook already helped elect Donald Trump once” and that “It’s time to hold Mark Zuckerberg accountable”.
Warren has advocated for antitrust action against major tech companies and has called for Facebook to be broken up into multiple smaller companies.
Last week, leaked transcripts of a July meeting at Facebook revealed that Zuckerberg had promised to “go to the mat” and “fight” if Warren was elected and pursued her plan to break the company up. He also described her antitrust proposal as an “existential” threat and said it would “suck for us”.
Warren appears to relish the fight with Facebook. She shot back: “What would really ‘suck’ is if we don’t fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”
A Facebook spokesperson responded to the new ads to CNN, which first reported on them, saying: “If Senator Warren wants to say things she knows to be untrue, we believe Facebook should not be in the position of censoring that speech.”