In case you wanted to be even more skeptical of Mark Zuckerberg and his cohorts, Facebook has now changed its advertising policies to make it easier for politicians to lie in paid ads. Donald Trump is taking full advantage of this policy change, as popular info reports.
To keep its ads honest, Facebook usually partners with third-party fact-checkers certified by Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network. Then the Trump campaign launched a new ad on Facebook last Tuesday stating that Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son Hunter Biden’s company. Trump cited this story to make himself the scapegoat of the situation, stating that his honorable call for investigation led to his impeachment inquiry.
The full ad is below:
The claim in this ad was ruled false by those Facebook-approved third-party fact-checkers, but it is still up and running. Why? Because Facebook changed its policy on what constitutes misinformation in advertising. Prior to last week, Facebook’s rule against “false and misleading content” didn’t leave room for gray areas: “Ads landing pages, and business practices must not contain deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers, or methods.”
Now that category of prohibited content allows for much more flexibility, and therefore, smear advertising. The updated version reads that Facebook only “prohibits ads that include claims debunked by third-party fact checkers or, in certain circumstances, claims debunked by organizations with particular expertise.”
The verbiage matters here: “debunked” is more interpretive than downright “false” or “misleading.” Even worse, “debunked” does not apply to politicians anymore, as, per this new policy, they are now allowed to lie in paid aids.
Although the Trump campaign is utilizing this new policy change (it seems made for him), this should not be a partisan issue. The 2020 election is arguably set to be one of the most defining in this country’s history, and false facts can be the thing to sway the swing voter. It’s yet another shameful blunder that proves Facebook is manipulating the way we interact with news, information and each other in a malicious way.