Facebook is not taking down a misleading Trump campaign ad that shows a fight between protesters and police in Ukraine in 2014
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump's reelection campaign posted an Facebook ad that misleadingly used a picture from a 2014 Ukraine protest to illustrate "chaos & violence." The picture's photographer confirmed to Business Insider on Wednesday that the image is of pro-democracy protesters in Ukraine six years ago. Facebook has not removed the advert, though it now appears to be inactive. A source close to Facebook told Business Insider the platform will not delete the ad, and that politicians are exempt from its third-party fact-checking program. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Facebook will not remove a misleading advert by President Donald Trump's reelection campaign that used a 2014 photo from Ukraine to illustrate "chaos & violence," a source close to the company said. The ad, which was released on Facebook on Tuesday, sought to contrast "public safety" with "chaos & violence" with two images. The first showed Trump listening to law-enforcement officials, while the second showed an image of protesters appearing to attack a police officer. However, the image of the protesters was not taken in America in 2020, but in Kyiv, Ukraine, in March 2014. The picture's photographer, Mstyslav Chernov, confirmed the date and location of the image to Business Insider on Wednesday.
Though the advert did not explicitly claim the picture is from the US, it comes at a time when civil unrest in American cities has become a key GOP campaigning point. A source close to Facebook told Business Insider on Thursday that the company is not removing the ad because politicians are exempt from the platform's third-party fact-checking program. According to Facebook's advertising archive, the ad is now inactive, meaning that it is not being shown to people. It is not clear when the ad was made inactive, and who made the decision to do it. Business Insider contacted Facebook for comment but did not immediately hear back. Before it went inactive, the ad had been distributed to pro-Trump groups like "Evangelicals for Trump." As of Thursday, fewer than 1,000 people have seen it, according to the advertising archive.
Though politicians are exempt from Facebook's third-party fact-checking program, they can still be punished if they incite violence or voter suppression, which violates the platform's rules. Facebook has previously removed Trump campaign adverts over issues of census misinformation, copyright infringement and use of hate organization symbols as well. Tuesday's advert did not violate any copyright issues, as it was posted under a Creative Commons license to Wikimedia Commons. (Business Insider sought the additional permission of the photographer to publish the image.) The photo also happens to be the first image that appears in Google Images under the search term "protester attacks police officer," with the image permission settings toggled to "labeled for reuse with modification," as cyber threat analyst Nate Beach-Westmoreland pointed out in a tweet. There is no indication that the Trump campaign located the photo this way.
The ad ran as tensions between law-enforcement officials and protesters are at a record high. Trump has said he supports the right to peaceful protest during the swell of activism that followed the police killing of George Floyd. However, his campaign has amped up rhetoric against what it says are violent protesters, and the issue has become a major focus for Trump's administration and reelection campaign. Trump has sent federal agents to quell protests in Portland — against the wishes of local officials — and has threatened to send more to other Democrat-led cities. The city's leaders have warned that the move will only amplify tensions between law enforcement and protesters. A video uploaded to Trump's YouTube channel on Wednesday, which included clips of brawling and disorderly protesters, is titled: "Far-left fascists have turned Portland into a violent hellscape."
Read more: A new Trump campaign ad depicting a police officer being attacked by protesters is actually a 2014 photo of pro-democracy protests in Ukraine Mark Zuckerberg slammed speculation that he and Trump have a deal allowing Trump free rein on the platform in exchange for looser regulation Conservative outlets regularly have the top-performing posts on Facebook — but Facebook says the full picture is more complicated Join the conversation about this story »
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