Bashar al-Assad Facebook Ads Cause Outcry

It is not everyday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Facebook ads show up in someone’s feeds, but when they do, it causes quite the controversy for the world’s largest social media site.

Assad’s ads, which linked to his re-election campaign’s Facebook account with over 230,000 fans, have already been taken down, according to the company. But a group called The Syria Campaign has demanded the social media site not keep the money it has already earned from the Syrian regime in its attempt to show that al-Assad’s re-election is not a sham.

In a petition that appears on its website, the group takes Facebook to task and says the money should be donated to children in the war-torn country.

“Facebook’s been taking money from the Syrian regime to promote its propaganda. Tell Facebook to stop helping the regime and donate every dollar received back to help Syrian children.”

John Jackson of the Syria Campaign told The Guardian newspaper that Facebook’s even allowing the regime to even use the site is “beyond the pale.”

“Assad has been widely accused of war crimes,” he said. “He’s using starvation as a weapon of war against his own people. He’s dropping barrel bombs on schools and residential districts, throwing out shrapnel against civilians. He has done things that most human-rights organisations have categorised as serious crimes. The fact that Facebook is allowing Assad to use its services for his campaign should be beyond the pale.”

For its part, Facebook told The Washington Post that it had taken down the ads for violating its policies, though what those policies are was not clear.

The social media site also said it would not taken down the pro-Assad fan page the advertisements linked to.

Assad’s re-election campaign, which is known as SAWA al-Assad (sawa means “together” in Arabic), is not only active on Facebook. The campaign has also launched Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts in efforts to spread their message.

This is not the first bad press Syria and Facebook have both received in recent days. The Inquisitr noted on May 30 that a recent suicide bombing in the country was committed by American Moner Mohammad Abusalha, who apparently was active in social media including Facebook.

The Syrian presidential election was held Tuesday, with Assad winning more than 85 percent of the vote, though European leaders and even US Secretary of State John Kerry have condemned the election as a farce, according to Al Jazeera.

[Image via Flikr Creative Commons]

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