Facebook on Tuesday rejected a request by Democratic candidate Joseph R. Biden’s presidential campaign to stop running a controversial attack ad purchased by President Trump’s re-election team.
In a letter to the Biden campaign seen by The Washington Times, Facebook said the 30-second video ad will remain on the platform because it does not violate any of the company’s policies.
“Our 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,” wrote Katie Harbath, Facebook’s head of global elections policy, The New York Times first reported.
The video ad bought by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign claims that Mr. Biden, former President Barack Obama’s running mate and current Democratic front-runner, pressured the Ukrainian government while in office to fire a prosecutor who had been investigating a company with business ties to his son.
Mr. Biden has denied wrongdoing, and both the Biden campaign and Democratic National Committee have taken issue with the ad and asked platforms not to run it.
“It is unacceptable for any social media company to knowingly allow deliberately misleading material to corrupt its platform,” Biden campaign spokesman T.J. Ducklo said in a statement about Facebook’s decision to allow the attack ad, CNN reported.
Facebook told The Washington Times that ads from politicians are not eligible for review by the company’s third-party fact-checking partners, and the ad was allowed to remain because it was otherwise in compliance with the company’s advertising policies and community standards.
The video is part of a $10 million advertising blitz launched by Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign on the heels of Democrats initiating an impeachment inquiry last month amid revelations emerging about the president having asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the Bidens during a July phone call.
Mr. Trump has insisted his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect,” and that the impeachment proceedings are a Democratic-led “hoax” and “witch hunt.”
CNN said last week that it would not run the anti-Biden ad, saying it falls short of the cable network’s standards and “makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets, including CNN.” No other major outlets have followed suit.
Facebook’s vice president announced late last month that the social network would refrain from fact-checking ads for politicians purchased on its platforms. Seema Nanda, the DNC’s chief executive officer, responded after that Facebook’s policy change would effectively let Mr. Trump “mislead the American people on their platform unimpeded” by not vetting the claims appearing in ads purchased by his re-election campaign.
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