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Facebook : Warren Escalates Fight With Facebook Over Political Ads

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10/12/2019 | 08:39pm EDT

By Patience Haggin

Sen. Elizabeth Warren sought to turn Facebook Inc.'s political ad policy against it, running an ad with a false claim about Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to highlight complaints about the social-media giant's handling of misinformation.

The ad, which the Warren presidential campaign ran on Facebook, says Mr. Zuckerberg endorsed President Trump's re-election, and shows an image of the two men shaking hands. The ad's text then quickly acknowledges that the endorsement claim is false, and criticizes Facebook's policy, announced last month, that it won't fact-check speech or advertising by politicians.

The move escalates Democrats' feud with Facebook following its refusal to remove an ad this month from Mr. Trump's re-election campaign, run on multiple platforms, that made an unsubstantiated claim about former Vice President Joe Biden's role in the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor. Facebook denied the Biden campaign's request to remove the ad, which the campaign said was false, because the ad complied with Facebook's policies, the company said.

"What Zuckerberg *has* done is given Donald Trump free rein to lie on his platform -- and then to pay Facebook gobs of money to push out their lies to American voters," Ms. Warren wrote in her new ad.

The Trump campaign has said its ads are accurate.

Facebook responded to Ms. Warren's ad on Saturday with a post on its Twitter account addressed to the senator, saying that broadcast stations have aired the Trump campaign's ad nearly 1,000 times "as required by law."

The Federal Communications Commission "doesn't want broadcast companies censoring candidates' speech. We agree it's better to let voters -- not companies -- decide," Facebook's tweet said. The company declined to comment further.

Facebook isn't covered by the FCC rules governing political ads on broadcast networks.

Ms. Warren's campaign began running the Facebook ad on Thursday. It has spent $3,400 to $9,486 on the ad, which has been viewed 180,000 to 750,000 times, according to Facebook's Ad Library.

The campaign declined to confirm the spending or view numbers. Ms. Warren followed up Saturday with a series of tweets criticizing the Facebook ad policy.

The criticism was the latest volley in Ms. Warren's battle with Facebook on a range of issues. Ms. Warren has advocated breaking up the company on antitrust grounds, a position that Mr. Zuckerberg described recently as "an existential threat" that he vowed the company would fight.

Ms. Warren has taken out a series of Facebook ads accusing Mr. Zuckerberg of "illegal anti-competitive practices," according to the company's ad library.

The fight over political ads has highlighted the different standards that exist between tech platforms and traditional media companies. Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal stopped running the ad about Mr. Biden and Ukraine on its cable networks. CNN has refused to run it. Meanwhile, several networks -- such as Discovery Inc.'s Investigation Discovery and Fox Corp.'s Fox News -- have aired it, according to iSpot data.

Fox Corp. and Wall Street Journal parent News Corp share common ownership.

Write to Patience Haggin at patience.haggin@wsj.com

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