Facebook Removes Trump Campaign Ads for Including Symbol Used by Nazis

The platform has been criticized for not taking down posts in the past

illustration of donald trump with colorful scribbles over his face and facebook's logo in the center
Facebook removed a Trump post that used Nazi iconography Thursday. Illustration: Amira Lin; Source: Pixabay, Facebook
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Facebook took unprecedented action against the reelection campaign for President Donald Trump, removing multiple advertisements that used Nazi iconography that warned against “dangerous mobs of far-left groups.”

The advertisements, posted by the pages for Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Team Trump, a campaign account, used an upside-down red triangle to rail against Antifa, a scattered collective of antifascist activists that Trump wants to designate as a terrorist group. However, the upside-down red triangle was used in Nazi Germany to identify communists, trade unionists and other targets of Adolf Hitler’s genocidal regime. 

facebook post with a red triangle on the bottom

The ads, which started running on Wednesday, reached hundreds of thousands of Facebook users before they were removed, according to Facebook’s Ad Library. They were purchased by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, the president’s reelection committee.

“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”

In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, the reelection campaign’s director of communications, criticized Facebook and claimed the triangle is a “symbol used by Antifa.”

Twitter outright banned political advertising from its platform, but Facebook has remained committed to allowing them on its channels, despite backlash over how it has moderated content in organic posts. In recent weeks, Facebook has been criticized for refusing to take down an organic post from Trump’s own account, which many interpreted as a violent threat against protesters during the Minneapolis protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

Twitter restricted the post that said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” for breaking its rules on glorifying violence. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the post did not break its rules on inciting violence, much to the consternation of critics, including his own employees, many of whom staged a walkout in protest. 

Civil rights groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP and liberal advocacy groups like Media Matters and Sleeping Giants have urged advertisers to boycott Facebook in recent days over policies on hate speech, holding the president to site rules and their policy against fact-checking political ads.

@ScottNover scott.nover@adweek.com Scott Nover is a platforms reporter at Adweek, covering social media companies and their influence.