Facebook allowed hundreds of misleading ads about Biden, mail-in voting

Facebook has thus far removed 40 misleading ads about Joe Biden and the US Postal Service

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Facebook has been no stranger to political controversy and now it’s now been revealed that the social media juggernaut allowed political advertisers to repeatedly create hundreds of misleading ads about Joe Biden and the US Postal Service that were targeted to swing-state voters.

According to CNN Business, in recent weeks, the ads which were primarily sponsored by a pro-Republican super PAC led by former Trump administration officials, were disseminated to voters in key states like Florida to Wisconsin. They were viewed more than 10 million times.

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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at campaign event in Pittsburgh, Pa., Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, at a location called Mill 19. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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“We reject ads that include content which has been debunked on our platform by our fact-checking partners. We are reviewing these ads, which are now inactive, to determine if they should’ve been rejected,” Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, told CNN Business after their report was originally published.

But an analysis of Facebook’s ad transparency data by the activist group Avaaz found that not only did Facebook fail to enforce its own platform rules less than two months before Election Day, some of the damaging ads are also still being run to this day.

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MORRIS PLAINS, NEW JERSEY – AUGUST 17: Mailboxes sit outside of a Morris Plains, New Jersey post office on August 17, 2020 in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has accepted House Democrats’ request to come before Congress on August 24th to answer questions about recent policy and operational changes inside the postal service. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

In terms of money spent and impressions received, Avaaz’s analysis identified two super PACs as the most egregious offenders: pro-Trump group America First Action, and the pro-Democratic group Stop Republicans.

Even though Facebook has removed about 40 of the misleading advertisements by the time Avaaz raised their concerns with internal company moderators this week, it’s worth noting that represented less than 10% of the total identified by the group’s research.

Fadi Quran, campaign director at Avaaz, said many of the surviving ads were almost identical to the ones Facebook took down, which means that although the company understands what type of content is problematic, there appears to be a lack of urgency in addressing the issue.

“The objective question is, ‘Is Facebook as a platform protecting and informing US citizens during this election, or are its policies as they exist today causing more harm and allowing malicious users to weaponize it?'” said Quran. “Objectively trying to answer that question, our findings indicate Facebook could be doing so much more by applying its policies.”

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