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Facebook says it will remove misleading Trump 'census' ads

The Hill logo The Hill 3/5/2020 Chris Mills Rodrigo
a close up of a stereo: Facebook says it will remove misleading Trump 'census' ads © Getty Facebook says it will remove misleading Trump 'census' ads

Facebook will remove misleading "census" ads from President Trump's reelection campaign after criticism, a spokesperson told The Hill Thursday.

"There are policies in place to prevent confusion around the official U.S. Census and this is an example of those being enforced," the spokesperson said.

The ads, run more than a thousand times on Trump and Vice President Pence's accounts, urge supporters to fill out an "Official 2020 Congressional District Census." The link attached to the post redirects users to the Trump campaign website, where they are asked to take a survey and then make a donation.

Facebook came under fire Thursday from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and one of the architects of the platform's policy designed to combat census misinformation for permitting the ads.

"This is, on the part of Facebook, a robust, unacceptable interference in the census," Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.

"Facebook must take the ads down immediately and actually enforce its own policy moving forward," said Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an organization representing 200 civil rights groups which helped Facebook create its census policy.

Also on Thursday, the House Oversight and Reform Committee called on the Republican National Committee to stop sending out campaign mailers labeled as a "census."

Facebook in December announced it would start banning posts with misleading information about the census.

The policy bans ads that "portray census participation as useless or meaningless or advise people not to participate in the census," even if they come from political figures, which are normally exempt from ad fact-checking.

The census, conducted once every 10 years, is used to allocate federal funding and determine congressional districts.

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