Once again the Trump campaign, and Donald Trump Jr. in particular, are spreading misinformation about Democrats trying to flood the election with bogus or duplicate ballots, via a campaign ad. And the Biden campaign is now publicly calling out Facebook for allowing such misinformation about voting to continue to be spread, despite the companies repeated insistence that it would not allow any content that misrepresents the voting process.
An ad featuring the junior Trump with the headline "Enlist Now" has appeared in recent days on Facebook, with a link to the URL "defendyourballot.com" that redirects to this website seeking Election Day volunteers that sound distinctly like the racist voter-intimidation squads of yore. The ad says falsely claims that those who oppose Trump intend to add "millions of fraudulent ballots" to ballot boxes that will "cancel your vote and overturn the election." And, frighteningly, it calls on "every able bodied man and woman" to join an "army" to "defend" their ballots on Election Day.
Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon has now penned an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the egregious ads, saying that pleas by the Biden campaign and the media to remove them have gone unheeded. Axios first reported on the letter Tuesday.
O'Malley Dillon attacks Facebook as "the nation’s foremost propagator of disinformation about the voting process," and says that the company's "continued promise of future action is serving as nothing more than an excuse for inaction." She further says, "No company that considers itself to be a force for good in democracy, and that purports to take voter suppression seriously, would allow this dangerous claptrap to be spread to millions of people."
The ad in question was posted on September 21 to the Team Trump page on Facebook — which posts dozens of videos and pro-Trump posts every day and is like a non-stop content machine for Trump-created fictions, including constant references to the "China plague" and "China virus." The ad has received 1,700 likes and reactions, and 1,200 comments.
Facebook responded by putting the fact-check box seen above right to the comment area of the video, but as it has before with Trump-related bullshit, Facebook is refusing to remove the video despite its clear violation of stated company policies.
"By now Mr. Trump clearly understands that Facebook will not hold him to their clearly stated policies," O'Malley Dillon writes.
Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said, "We have rules in place to protect the integrity of the election and free expression, and we will continue to apply them impartially," though many would argue that rules about voter suppression don't need to be applied on the other side because the Democrats don't try to suppress votes or lie about how elections work.
"While many Republicans think we should take one course, many Democrats think we should do the exact opposite," Stone says.
Facebook has faced intense criticism and a widespread advertiser boycott due to its continued insistence on applying its "impartial" rules while not limiting the Trump campaign from doing its digital dirty work on the platform. Facebook had contemplated a total "kill switch" for political ads right before the election, and is instead taking the much vaguer step of "restricting" political ads in the week before Election Day. The fact-check "labels" for Trumpian lies only date back to late June, and were Zuckerberg's half-measure at allaying some of these criticisms.
"Rather than seeing progress, we have seen regression," O'Malley Dillon writes, pledging that the campaign will be "calling out those failures as they occur over the coming 36 days."