An ad that was part of the conservative PAC American Principles Project’s (APP PAC) $4 million campaign was labeled “missing context and could mislead people” by Facebook fact-checkers.
NBC News wrote that the video, titled “Not Fair,” would not be allowed to run as a paid advertisement after Politifact fact-checked the video on Sept. 15. The 38-second ad states, “All female athletes want is a fair shot at competition, at a scholarship, at a title, at victory. But what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl but was born a boy? Senator Gary Peters and Joe Biden support legislation that would destroy girls’ sports.”
However, in the fact-check, Politifact Michigan Reporter Clara Hendrickson admitted that the ad made a prediction that “we can't fact-check.” But that didn’t stop Politifact from fact-checking the ad. Hendrickson cited C.J. Warnke, the press secretary for Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), who said the ad was “a blatant attempt to mislead voters and distort the truth about the Equality Act.”
APP PAC Executive Director Terry Schilling released a statement, saying, “Today, it has become clear that the greatest threat to free and fair American elections is not Russia or some other nefarious foreign actor; it is America’s own Big Tech conglomerates — Facebook chief among them. It would be understandable, though still very troubling, if Facebook removed an ad for being ‘fact-checked’ as false. However, our ad has not been found false by any fact-checker, nor could it be.”
APP Director of Government Affairs Jon Schweppe told the Media Research Center, “Every single campaign ad in the history of American politics is ‘missing context’ in some way. That's certainly true of every ad run by the Democrats this cycle. Obviously Facebook is not applying this new standard fairly. Our ad was removed simply because they didn't like what it said.”
Facebook Policy Communications Director Andy Stone encouraged Schilling to appeal the ruling. However, in an email exchange, Poynter’s Angie Holan informed APP, “Our story is accurate and complete, and your ad fits the definition of missing context. Your appeal is rejected.”
The ad was part of a series of ads that were released on Sept. 3. On their release, both the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) condemned the content of the ads, saying, “The ads blatantly lie about what the Equality Act does and misrepresent the transgender community. Facebook and all social media platforms must take down these deceitful ads or label them for the misinformation they are.”
HRC President Alphonso David told NBC News, “While this is a great first step, we will continue to dialogue with Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms to ensure that APP and their misleading advertisements are labeled for the misinformation they are or removed entirely.” American Principles Project is a member of the Free Speech Alliance.