On Tuesday, Oct. 8, Facebook refused a request from Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign to take down a video advertisement by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign that illustrates the former vice president using his position in the White House to benefit his son Hunter in his Ukraine dealings.
Facebook wrote in a letter stressing that its decision is justified as it allows free speech to be made, as global elections policy chief Katie Harbath explained the decision on behalf of the company.
“Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguable the most scrutinized speech there is,” Harbath wrote. “Thus, when a politician speaks or makes an ad, we do not send it to third party fact checkers.”
Harbath went on to explain that Facebook will take measures to demote content “if a politician seeks to share a viral hoax” that “has been previously debunked.” Though, this does not include a politician’s direct speech, Harbath wrote.
“That is different from a politician’s own claim or statement—even if the substance of that claim has been debunked elsewhere,” Harbath explained. “If the claim is made directly by a politician on their Page, in an ad or on their website, it is considered direct speech and ineligible for our third-party fact checking program.”
The 30-second ad, titled “Biden Corruption,” condemns Biden for previously threatening to withhold $1 billion in aid to Ukraine unless the country dismissed a prosecutor allegedly probing into an energy company, which his son, Hunter, served as a board member.
“Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company,” a narrator says, where a video from an event in which Biden mentions the money plays. “But when President Trump asks Ukraine to investigate corruption, the Democrats want to impeach him.”
Biden campaign representative TJ Ducklo fumed at Facebook’s decision, calling it “unacceptable,” and said that the flow of “objectively false information to influence public opinion poisons the public discourse and chips away at our democracy.”
Ducklo failed to comment on the substance of the ad’s claims, however.
CNN on the other hand, announced that it will not be running the ad, claiming that the video “does not meet our advertising standards,” Breitbart reports.
Tim Murtaugh, the president’s campaign communications director, condemned CNN for “spend[ing] all day protecting Joe Biden in their programming” when the news network refused to run the ad.
“[I]t’s not surprising that they’re shielding him from truthful advertising too, and then talking to other media outlets about it,” Murtaugh told the Daily Beast about Biden. “Our ad is entirely accurate and was reviewed by counsel, and CNN wouldn’t even describe to us what they found objectionable. This isn’t a cable news channel anymore, it’s a Democrat public relations firm.”