Independent fact-checkers have labeled eight of Donald Trump's campaign ads on Facebook over the past year false.
However, although the fact-checkers work in partnership with Facebook, these specific checks were conducted outside the framework of that partnership, because Facebook is continuing to exempt political ads from its policies on truthfulness in posted material.
A review conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that checks by the outside groups have repeatedly deemed Trump's messaging untruthful, including false claims about civil rights protests, voting rights, immigration, and Trump's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.Facebook has faced internal and external criticism for the policy loophole for political ads. Founder Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly defended the exception, saying he does not want his company to be "the arbiter of truth."
Facebook's information for publishers contains the claim that "by limiting political speech we would leave people less informed about what their elected officials are saying and leave politicians less accountable for their words."
One Facebook executive claimed that Facebook had to refrain from fact-checking political ads or else it might "become that which we fear," using a "Lord of the Rings" reference to make his point.
Twitter recently began attaching warning labels to some of Trump's false claims about voting. Snap, the maker of the Snapchat app, said last week it would no longer promote Trump's accounts in light of his comments inciting "racial violence and injustice." YouTube and Google have also removed over 300 Trump ads for policy violations.
Zuckerberg posted last week that Facebook was "going to review our policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt." He specifically mentioned instances of "excessive use of police or state force" and "when a country has ongoing civil unrest or violent conflicts." He also said Facebook would look into instances of voter suppression.
Trump has violated Facebook's normal policies on both topics.
Despite Facebook's friendly policies, Trump has still railed against the company, alleging anti-conservative bias. "The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation," he tweeted last month.
The eight claims in ads posted by the Trump campaign on Facebook that the independent fact-checkers debunked are the following.
Trump Falsely Suggested Biden Wants To Defund Police
On Thursday, the Trump campaign launched a Facebook ad claiming that Joe Biden "refuses to stand up to the radical leftists fighting to defund and abolish the police."
Days earlier, PolitiFact ruled a Trump tweet claiming Biden wants to "defund the police" false.
Trump Blamed Protest Violence On 'Antifa'
On June 3, a Trump campaign ad claimed, "Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem. They are DESTROYING our cities and rioting — it's absolute madness." The ad asked supporters to sign a petition and donate money to "stand with your President and his decision to declare ANTIFA a Terrorist Organization."
Factcheck.org noted on June 1 that Trump has no legal authority to designate any domestic group as terrorists, as "there is no such official federal designation for domestic terrorism organizations." It also noted that the White House had provided no evidence of "antifa" involvement in protest violence.
Many of the people arrested at protests against police violence and racism have been far-right extremists.
Trump Falsely Claimed Biden Denounced Ban On Travel From China
But PolitiFact ruled in March that this claim was "mostly false," as Biden had never specifically mentioned Trump's restrictions on people coming from China when he called out Trump's xenophobic record.
Trump Said Biden Would Give 'Free Health Care' to Undocumented Immigrants
The Trump campaign posted an ad claiming Biden "supports giving taxpayer-funded health care to illegal immigrants for free."
PolitiFact called an earlier version of this ad "mostly false" last August, as Biden and other Democratic presidential hopefuls had promised they would cover health care for undocumented immigrants, not that it would be free.
Trump Wrongly Accused Democrats Of Wanting To 'Repeal' Second Amendment
On May 19, Trump's campaign launched an ad claiming, "Democrats have finally admitted what they truly want: a repeal of the Second Amendment."
Last September, Factcheck.org debunked this "deceptive" claim, noting that no presidential candidate or major congressional candidate had actually said this.
Trump Baselessly Accused The Left Of Voter Fraud
Factcheck.org wrote in April that such claims were examples of "Trump's latest voter fraud misinformation."
The Trump campaign Misleadingly Edited Video Of CNN Medical Expert
On May 5, Trump's campaign released an ad suggesting that CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta had agreed that two million people would have died of COVID-19 without Trump's limited restrictions on travel from China.
Factcheck.org wrote that day that "the ad edited [host Wolf] Blitzer's question in a misleading way," making it seem that he was asking about the travel rules when he was actually talking about social distancing requirements. The fact check noted that CNN's parent company had sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Trump campaign, objecting to the "false, misleading and deceptive" use of its content.
Trump Falsely Claimed Biden Offered Bribe To Ukraine
Last October, Trump's campaign ran ads claiming that Biden "PROMISED Ukraine $1 BILLION DOLLARS if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son's company."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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