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MENLO PARK, Calif. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Facebook has removed Trump campaign advertisements, saying they include symbols of organized hate that violate the social media platform's policy.
Social media giant Facebook has removed 88 ads posted from the official accounts of President Donald Trump, the Trump campaign and Vice President Mike Pence, judging them to be "violating our policy against organized hate."
At issue is the upside-down triangle. The symbol was used by the Nazi party in World War II, claims Facebook, to identify political dissidents in concentration camps. The ads first caught the attention of some Twitter users Thursday who pointed out the symbol's historical significance.
A Facebook spokesman immediately responded, issuing a written statement that the posts violated their company's policies. "Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group's symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol," the spokesman wrote.
After the ads were posted on June 17, a progressive Jewish advocacy group called Bend the Arc called out the ads in a tweet, saying Trump was "campaigning for re-election using a Nazi concentration camp symbol." This quickly went viral with 14,000 retweets.
The Trump campaign was quick to respond. A Twitter account for the campaign claimed that the image was not in the Database for Hate Symbols compiled by the Anti-Defamation League, and also claimed that an upside-down red triangle has been "widely used by Antifa."
Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign, further stated that Facebook itself has an emoji of the symbol. "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," Murtaugh said in an e-mailed statement.
The removed ads were linked with warnings that "dangerous MOBS of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem," coupled with the plea, "Please add your name IMMEDIATELY to stand with your president and his decision to declare ANTIFA a terrorist organization."
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, was not impressed. In a prepared statement, he expressed disappointment in the Trump campaign's choice. "Whether aware of the history or meaning, for the Trump campaign to use a symbol — one which is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps — to attack his opponents is offensive and deeply troubling," Greenblatt said in an e-mail.
"Facebook was right to remove ads using a symbol which, according to the Washington Post, was used in the 1930s to identify communists, and was applied as well to Social Democrats, liberals, Freemasons and other members of opposition parties incarcerated by the Nazis," said Larry Magid, senior contributor of Forbes.com in an editorial on Thursday. "Facebook has stated policy against symbols from organized hate groups," he added.
The ad ban comes only weeks after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised that his company would not intervene in free speech and political matters.
"I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online," Zuckerberg said. "Private companies probably shouldn't be, especially these platform companies, shouldn't be in the position of doing that."
Zuckerberg's comments came after Twitter slapped a fact-check link on two of Trump's tweets that questioned the integrity of mail-in voting and warned of the possibility of fraud.
All this comes in the wake of President Trump signing an executive order to combat social media bias against political conservatives and religious Christians.