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Virginia Democratic candidate Jennifer Wexton is the target of an extreme and anonymous Facebook advertisement campaign as she fights to unseat Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) in the state’s contested 10th Congressional District race.
The ads, which appeared on Monday, have been traced back to a social media page called “Wacky Wexton Not.” They brand the Democrat as an “evil socialist” and depict her next to a tall shadow throwing a Nazi salute.
“What’s the difference???” the caption asks. “Nothing!! Both are liars.”
Wexton’s spokesperson Aaron Fritschner released a statement announcing that the campaign would investigate the matter.
“The Wexton campaign is reviewing the bizarre, false ads and the page sponsoring them which appears to be designed to spread disinformation, to determine whether they comply with applicable rules,” Fritschner said, according to the New York Times.
Whichever individual or group is behind the ad campaign has not listed any personal information. A description on the Facebook page includes this text: “Paid for by a freedom loving American Citizen exercising my natural law right, protected by the 1st Amendment and protected by the 2nd Amendment.”
Facebook’s advertising policy allows the owner of even political ads to remain anonymous to the public but verify their identity to the company privately.
Speaking to the New York Times, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said that the company would not disclose the user or users’ identity to protect their privacy. He added that the controversial ads were allowed under Facebook’s policies.
Stone pointed to Facebook’s ad archive as one move the company has undertaken to deliver “meaningful transparency.”
It still remains a mystery who is behind the vicious campaign, but Comstock’s office was keen to distance itself completely.
“We are not involved with that page in any way, shape, or form,” a spokesperson asserted in a statement.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.