Facebook takes down Donald Trump ads attacking antifa because they contain a symbol linked to Nazis
Facebook Inc says it has taken down posts and ads run by the re-election campaign of US President Donald Trump for violating its policy against organised hate.
- The Trump campaign spent more than $10,000 on the ads
- It argued the symbol is an emoji and is not in the Anti-Defamation League’s database of symbols of hate
- Mr Trump has repeatedly singled out antifa as a major instigator of recent unrest
The ads showed a red inverted triangle, a symbol that was also used by the Nazis to identify political prisoners, with text asking Facebook users to sign a petition against antifa, a loosely organised anti-fascist movement.
“Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” said a Facebook company spokesperson.
The Trump campaign spent more than $10,000 on the ads, which began running on Wednesday on pages belonging to Mr Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, as well as on the Team Trump page.
Antifa is an umbrella term for leftist militants bound more by belief than organisational structure.
Mr Trump and Attorney-General William Barr have repeatedly singled out antifa as a major instigator of recent unrest during nationwide anti-racism protests, with little evidence.
Trump campaign says symbol used by antifa
In a statement, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said the inverted red triangle was a symbol used by antifa so it was included in an ad about antifa.
“We would note that Facebook still has an inverted red triangle emoji in use, which looks exactly the same, so it’s curious that they would target only this ad,” he said, adding that the symbol was not in the Anti-Defamation League’s database of symbols of hate.
A spokesman for the ADL said its database was not one of historical Nazi symbols but of those “commonly used by modern extremists and white supremacists in the United States”.
He also said there had been some antifa who had used the red triangle, but that it was not a common symbol used by the group.
“Whether aware of the history or meaning, for the Trump campaign to use a symbol — one which is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps — to attack his opponents is offensive and deeply troubling,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.
Media Matters for America, an online US research group, said the Trump campaign had run at least 2,110 anti-antifa advertisementssince June 3.
“In recent days, the campaign has experimented with various illustrations in the post — mostly variations of a generic alert image,” the group said.
In reply to a Media Matters tweet regarding the use of a red triangle, Trump War Room, an account managed by the Trump campaign team, offered the same explanation for the use of the symbol.
“There is a widely used symbol though and it is nothing like the very specific symbol you went with,” the group replied.
Facebook has previously removed Trump campaign ads, including ones that violated the company’s policy against misinformation on the government’s census.
This recent action comes as Facebook and other technology companies face persistent criticism, particularly from Democrats, about whether they are doing enough to police the spread of disinformation and tweets and posts from Mr Trump perceived as inflammatory.