Jun 18, 2020 - Technology

Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads with symbol once used by Nazis

Trump campaign ad
Screenshot: Axios

Facebook has taken down an ad from the Trump campaign that went after antifa and leftist groups with a prominent display of an inverted red triangle in a black outline, a symbol the Nazis used for political dissenters.

Why it matters: Facebook has given politicians and campaigns wide latitude in what they say on its platform, but this appears to have been a step too far.

  • While rare, it's not unheard of. Facebook in March took down Trump campaign ads that referred to a "census." The census it referred to was not the official U.S. Census, and Facebook had previously said it would take a strong stand on Census-related misinformation.

What they're saying: "We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate," Facebook 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."

Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said in a statement;

“The inverted red triangle is a symbol used by Antifa, so it was included in an ad about Antifa. We would note that Facebook still has an inverted red triangle emoji in use, which looks exactly the same, so it’s curious that they would target only this ad. The image is also not included in the Anti-Defamation League’s database of symbols of hate. But it is ironic that it took a Trump ad to force the media to implicitly concede that Antifa is a hate group.”

Between the lines: Others have disputed the Trump campaign's claim, as antifa supporters tend to instead use a different symbol — two flags surrounded by a circle — that dates back to opponents of the Nazis in 1930s Germany.

  • ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement: “It is not difficult for one to criticize their political opponent without using Nazi-era imagery. We implore the Trump campaign to take greater caution and familiarize themselves with the historical context before doing so. Ignorance is not an excuse for appropriating hateful symbols."
  • The Trump campaign has been running ads attacking Antifa and other groups on the left for much of the month, per Media Matters for America.
  • The ads with the red triangle, posted under accounts for Donald Trump, VP Mike Pence and the Trump Campaign, were first posted on Wednesday.

Flashback: Twitter has been more aggressive in labeling content from Trump, fact-checking one post on voting by mail and labeling and limiting the promotion of another that it said glorified violence.

Go deeper