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

Sep 25, 2020 - Technology

Scoop: Google to block election ads after Election Day

Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

Google informed its advertisers Friday that it will broadly block election ads after polls close Nov. 3, according to an email obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Big Tech platforms have been under pressure to address how their ad policies will handle conflicts over the presidential election's outcome.

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Sep 25, 2020 - Technology

Exclusive: Majority polled back a social-media blackout for election

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Fifty-two percent of voters support shutting down social media platforms altogether for the week of the presidential election, according to a poll from GQR research shared exclusively with Axios.

The big picture: Tech companies have aggressively rolled out new guardrails around misinformation related to the election and taken down numerous foreign-led meddling campaigns this year, but critics continue to fear that social media is a vector for domestic and foreign deceit.