Facebook quickly reversed course after removing ads from Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren calling for the breakup of Facebook and other tech giants, with the social media company deciding to allow the ads on its site after reports emerged of the removals.
The ads included a video that directed supporters to sign a petition showing support for efforts “to break up these big tech companies,” Politico reported. The ads reflected a new push from Warren to create greater oversight over large companies that she said operate as a monopoly over the tech industry, scooping up competitors and squeezing start-ups out of the marketplace.
“Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google,” the ads read. “We all use them. But in their rise to power, they’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field in their favor.”
By early on Monday, a new message emerged showing that the ads had been taken down for violating Facebook’s advertising policies. A Facebook spokesperson told Politico that the ads contained an unauthorized use of the Facebook logo.
But shortly after Politico‘s article published, Facebook came under fire for the decision and announced that it would allow the ads to remain on the site “in the interest of allowing robust debate.”
Facebook also came under fire before and after the 2016 presidential election for a lack of oversight into political ads, with the Russian government targeting Facebook both with advertisements and fake profiles and groups that pushed divisive political messages, part of the country’s effort to interfere in the election. The site announced that it had since beefed up security measures.
NEW: Facebook took down several Elizabeth Warren ads calling for the breakup of Facebook and other tech giants https://t.co/qMQpVu0yt3
— Cristiano Lima (@viaCristiano) March 11, 2019
Despite these efforts, the site has remained a target for overt political campaigns across the globe. As Business Insider reported, the site in February uncovered a plan to use a network of hundreds of fake accounts and pages to target people in Moldova. The campaign was an attempt to influence political debate ahead of that country’s elections, the report noted.
Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has leaned heavily on protecting Americans against corporate interests, with a recent focus on breaking up large tech companies. She has also taken aim at Amazon as well, and her plans dovetail with a new push by congressional Democrats to establish strong net neutrality protection that would prevent service providers from manipulating how users experience the internet and speeds for different sites and services, NBC News noted.