Facebook Reverses Block of Republican House Candidate’s Ad
Facebook has lifted its block on a campaign video ad from Republican House candidate Elizabeth Heng, which the social-media platform initially said violated the company’s advertising policies.
Heng’s video starts with graphic black-and-white photos depicting the genocide in communist Cambodian—which her parents survived—of about 35 years ago. Heng continues to speak about her parents’ story before the ad segues into focusing on her campaign.
An initial Facebook message to Heng stated, “We don’t allow ads that contain shocking, disrespectful, or sensational content, including ads that depict violence or threats of violence,” according to a screenshot posted on Aug 4.
.@facebook rejected my video because it was “too shocking” for their platform, referring to the scenes of horrific events my parents survived in Cambodia. Facebook, do you think it’s right to censor history? #censorship
Full ad here: https://t.co/SY0w1o327m pic.twitter.com/etvlZYK22N
— Elizabeth Heng (@ElizabethHeng) August 4, 2018
A Facebook spokesperson told The Epoch Times, in an updated statement on Aug. 7, that they have since reversed their decision.
“Upon further review, it is clear the video contains historical imagery relevant to the candidate’s story,” a spokesperson said via email. “We have since approved the ad and it is now running on Facebook.”
Days ago, Heng hit back upon first hearing about Facebook’s block, and questioned their reasoning behind it. The social-networking company has been inundated with criticisms that they actively censor conservative voices, most recently for removing four InfoWars pages run by Alex Jones.
“Facebook rejected my video because it was ‘too shocking’ for their platform, referring to the scenes of horrific events my parents survived in Cambodia. Facebook, do you think it’s right to censor history?” Heng wrote on Aug. 4.
“My parents did not have the luxury of blocking the horrific content from the reality of their lives during the rise of communism in Cambodia. Why does Facebook feel they have the right to censor that content in the land of free speech?” Heng said in another separate post.
The incident also had caught the attention of a fellow Republican, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who weighed in on Twitter.
“Heng is a Republican woman. Her family survived the Communist genocide in Cambodia and came to America. Now, Facebook is blocking her story,” McCarthy wrote in an Aug. 6 Twitter post.
Heng is running against incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Costa in California’s 16th Congressional District. She made a strong showing in the state’s open primary in June, taking 47 percent of the vote, compared with Costa’s 53 percent. She wasn’t able to respond to a request for comment by press time.
A Recurring Problem
Facebook has often blocked the promotion of content, only to later reverse it after facing backlash.
In July, Facebook admitted to wrongly blocking Florida State Rep. Matt Caldwell‘s video promotion that featured a pro-gun stance. Facebook later re-allowed the promotion after he accused the company of being a “censorship regime.” Caldwell, a Republican, is seeking to become the state’s agriculture commissioner.
Also that month, Facebook notified a Texas newspaper, the Liberty County Vindicator, that it was promoting hate speech by posting excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. Facebook later apologized for the mistake and restored the deleted post.
In July, Christian gospel group Zion’s Joy posted a song, “What Would Heaven Look Like,” only for the post to be removed, even after they paid Facebook to promote the video. The company soon apologized, saying they had made an “error” and, again, restored the post.
Conservatives and Republicans have long been critical of Facebook and other social-media platforms for their alleged censorship.
In January, an undercover video from Project Veritas included multiple current and former Twitter employees saying that the company censors conservatives and “shadow bans” people who express conservative viewpoints. Perhaps one of the most recognized cases involved conservative pro-Trump video bloggers Diamond and Silk, who accused Facebook of censoring their content and limiting their viewership. In April, the company told the duo their content was “unsafe,” before later issuing an apology.
Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, also apologized to the duo at a U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 17, on the topic of political filtering by major social-media companies.
“We recognize that we badly mishandled their concerns,” Bickert said during the hearing. “We apologized to them at the time, and I’d like to extend my own personal apology to them again today.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the congressional district where Elizabeth Heng is running. Heng is running against incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Costa in California’s 16th Congressional District. The Epoch Times regrets the error.