Facebook is often criticized for its content moderation decisions, and political advertising is no exception. That’s how the platform stepped face-first into a major controversy this week when it took down an ad from Senator Elizabeth Warren — a 2020 presidential candidate — calling for big tech companies like Facebook to be broken up.
The ads featured Warren’s proposed plan to break up “anti-competitive” tech mergers such as Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram. Warren criticized Facebook for using “our private information for profit,” and for unfairly squashing competition. However, according to Facebook, it did not remove the ads because they were critical. Instead, the company says it removed them because they violated its policies regarding the use of the Facebook corporate logo. Thankfully, the social media giant soon backtracked and restored the content “in the interest of allowing a robust debate,” but Warren wasn’t satisfied.
“Curious why I think FB has too much power? Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power,” Sen. Warren posted to Twitter. “Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn’t dominated by a single censor.”
Even when it means well, Facebook has a hard time getting out of its own way. By highlighting its own confusing content moderation rules, it inadvertently (and excellently) made Warren’s point for her.
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