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Facebook pulled some of President Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign advertisements from its platform on Monday, saying that it broke the rules by targeting “personal attributes.”
The ads were aimed at rallying the support of women. “The Women for Trump Coalition needs the support of strong women like you!” one exclaimed.
The social media giant only banned the ad after an inquiry by researchers from Popular Info, who pointed out the ad was “clearly prohibited.”
Facebook’s own advertising guidelines outlaws “content that asserts or implies personal attributes,” and this includes, among a host of characteristics, “direct or indirect assertions or implications about a person’s… gender identity.”
“We’ve notified the campaign that the ads violate policy. They can’t continue to run unless fixed,” a Facebook spokesperson said in response to the publication.
The reason that prohibited advertisements are continually allowed to run, according to previous reports by Popular Info, is that Facebook’s review system is heavily automated.
“We know that machines and human reviewers make mistakes, which is why the ad review system and enforcement aren’t perfect and we won’t catch every ad,” a spokesperson told Gizmodo on Tuesday.
What is clear is that as Trump seeks re-election in the run-up to 2020, his campaign strategy will once again aim to utilize social media to gather support.
In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, social media platforms came under fire for allowing the spread of disinformation and fake news, it was expected that companies like Facebook would take comprehensive action. But those studying 2020 political ad campaigns are noticing that this is not the case.
“Facebook has repeatedly allowed Trump to run ads that make demonstrably false claims,” Popular Info’s Judd Legum claims.
Not only does Legum go on to describe instances where Facebook has failed to act on pulling “false content”—such as one Trump campaign ad that claims Democrats want “a repeal of the Second Amendment”—but his research has outlined several “patterns of abuse” within the president’s political Facebook ad strategy.
The Trump campaign has yet to respond with a public statement regarding Facebook’s action.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.