Facebook Takes Down Ad Falsely Claiming Sen. Lindsey Graham Supports Green New Deal

October 29, 2019 Updated: October 29, 2019

Facebook Inc said on Oct. 26  that it had removed an ad falsely claiming that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) supported the Green New Deal, demonstrating that it will fact-check ads from political groups but not politicians.

The ad, which ran on Friday, was put up as a stunt by a left-leaning Political Action Committee, or PAC, called The Really Online Lefty League, to test Facebook’s political ad policies.

The ad was rated as false by Lead Stories, a fact-checker service used by Facebook. Lead Stories stated in an article posted on its website that “since The Really Online Lefty League is not a politician (or running for office) Lead Stories has rated their ad as “False.”

FILE PHOTO: A screengrab from a video shows U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appearing in a Facebook ad run by a PAC called The Really Online Lefty League, which falsely claims that he supports the Green New Deal, in order to draw attention to issues around Facebook ad policies, Oct. 25, 2019. (The Really Online Lefty League/Facebook via Reuters)
A screengrab from a video shows U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appearing in a Facebook ad run by a PAC called The Really Online Lefty League, which falsely claims that he supports the Green New Deal, in order to draw attention to issues around Facebook ad policies, Oct. 25, 2019. (The Really Online Lefty League/Facebook via Reuters)

The Lead Stories article also explained that due to Facebook policy, any Facebook posts, including ads made by a politician, “are not eligible to be rated by the third-party fact-checkers Facebook is working with,” like Lead Stories.

Facebook has been criticized in recent weeks over its decision to not fact-check ads run by politicians, drawing ire from Democratic candidates running in the 2020 presidential election such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington on Oct. 23, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Last week, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s policy, saying that the company did not want to stifle political speech.

Facebook spokesman Tom Channick told Reuters on Friday that since the new ad came from a political action group, rather than a politician, it was eligible for review by the company’s third-party fact-checking partners.

At the time of writing, the ad could still be viewed on the PAC’s Facebook page, but paid distribution had ceased.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks during a meeting of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 12, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The ad was posted days after Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) grilled Zuckerberg on whether Facebook would permit her to run such an ad, during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

The Washington Examiner reported that “Ocasio-Cortez asked Zuckerberg whether Facebook would allow ads targeting Republicans in primary contests that erroneously said they supported the Green New Deal, to which the Facebook head said ‘probably.’”

Adriel Hampton, treasurer of The Really Online Lefty League, said the Graham ad was inspired by the exchange.

Senator Graham’s office said on Friday that it was aware of the ad and confirmed the senator opposes the Green New Deal, a proposal championed by Ocasio-Cortez.

Facebook and other social media companies are under pressure to identify misinformation on their platforms during the run-up to the November 2020 election.

On Friday, Facebook started to test Facebook News, a new section of its mobile app.

Facebook News will feature content from almost 200 publishers, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, NBC, USA Today,  the Los Angeles Times, and Breitbart News, among others.

Tapping on the headlines would take the user directly to the publisher’s website or app if they already had it installed.

Facebook also stated that it would be paying “a range of publishers for access to all of their content.”

According to Reuters, Facebook said that Breitbart is an unpaid partner, unlike some outlets in the section.

Facebook told Epoch Times that if a “publisher falls out of eligibility for posting misinformation, or clickbait or scraping content—for example,” they would be cut from the tab.

Reuters contributed to this report

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