Facebook on Monday pulled down advertisements from President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign that sought to fire up conservative voters in two midterm battleground states with an ad deemed “racist” by major television broadcasters.
The company’s decision came after CNN, NBC, and Fox News had all pulled down the ad, which features a convicted cop-killer who was deported multiple times before he shot and killed two California sheriff’s deputies. The ad was released as a video by the Trump campaign last week.
Facebook soon followed suit. “This ad violates Facebook's advertising policy against sensational content so we are rejecting it. While the video is allowed to be posted on Facebook, it cannot receive paid distribution,” wrote a spokesperson for the company in an emailed statement.
The spokesperson said the ad violated the company’s policy against “sensational content” in advertisements. That policy prohibits “shocking, sensational, disrespectful or excessively violent content” in paid ads. “This includes dehumanizing or denigrating entire groups of people and using frightening and exaggerated rumors of danger.”
The ad, which features a convicted cop-killer who was deported multiple times before he shot and killed two California sheriff’s deputies, was released as a video by the Trump campaign last week. The spot seeks to pin the blame for those murders on immigrants generally along with Democratic policymakers who favor more lax immigration laws. Luis Brocamontes, the criminal at issue, was in fact arrested and released in 1998 by the office of then-Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump pardoned of a misdemeanor criminal offense this year. Brocamontes last entered the country illegally during the George W. Bush administration.
“America cannot allow this invasion. The migrant caravan must be stopped,” the Trump campaign’s 30-second ad declares. “President Trump and his allies will protect our border and keep our families safe.”
The ad aired during Sunday Night Football on NBC. And Facebook advertising data showed that the Trump campaign spent between $27,000 and $94,000 promoting the ads on that platform. A total of between 2.8 million and 5 million Facebook users viewed them before they were removed, according to that data.
By Monday afternoon, NBC had announced it would no longer be airing the spot. Fox News had too, saying in a statement from VP of ad sales Marianne Gabelli that, “upon further review,” the ad was pulled on Sunday and “will not appear on either FOX News Channel or FOX Business Network.”
Facebook’s decision came soon thereafter.
The announcements infuriated Brad Parscale, the manager of Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. Facebook and the TV networks that pulled the ad “have chosen to stand with those ILLEGALLY IN THIS COUNTRY. Instead of standing with LEGAL IMMIGRANTS and those that follow our laws,” he wrote in a Monday afternoon tweet.
Trump, for his part, pleaded ignorance when asked about the ad on Monday afternoon. “I don’t know about it. You’re telling me something i don't know about,” he told reporters gathered at Andrews Air Force Base. “We have a lot of ads and they certainly are effective based on the numbers that we’re seeing.”
Asked about those who considered the ad offensive, the president said, “A lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive a lot of times.”
The Trump campaign had promoted the video through two-dozen Facebook ads purchased on Sunday and Monday.The campaign, notably, only targeted voters in Arizona and Florida with the Facebook ad. Those are two swing states, with large Hispanic populations, where Republicans hope to win crucial U.S. Senate elections on Tuesday.
This post has been updated with more reporting.