As a part of its initiative to curb the propagation of misinformation on the platform, Facebook has announced that it is removing some ads run by US President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. These ads, which flout the policies laid by the social media giant, include an advertisement that asks people to ‘respond now’ to an ‘Official Congressional District Census’. Facebook says that the move will ‘prevent confusion around the official US census’.
‘This survey is ESSENTIAL to our team's 2020 campaign strategy. We need Patriotic Americans like YOU to respond to this census, so we can develop a winning strategy for YOUR STATE,’ an ad reads. According to CNN Business, the census survey is seeking people’s views on the President as well as their age, name, and contact information. The survey also asked what news platforms they read the most, and if they "think Nancy Pelosi and the Radical Left are putting their personal anti-Trump agenda ahead of what's best for the American people"’.
Facebook has already been mired in controversies since the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company has been alleged to run ads that mislead the voters, and it has been criticised by Democrats for not fact-checking ads run by politicians. ‘There are policies in place to prevent confusion around the official US Census, and this is an example of those being enforced,’ Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, was quoted as saying.
In October, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook does not fact-check political ads because it’s not right for a private company to censor politicians or the news in a democracy. He also said that other major internet platforms and the vast majority of media also run the same ads.
‘We recently clarified our policies to ensure people can see primary source speech from political figures that shape civic discourse. Political advertising is more transparent on Facebook than anywhere else — we keep all political and issue ads in an archive so everyone can scrutinize them, and no TV or print does that. We don’t fact-check political ads. We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying,’ Zuckerberg had said.
The US Census Bureau will send out mailers about how to respond to the 2020 Census later this month, CNN Business added.