Trump campaign ad criticized as misleading over photo of protesters taken in Ukraine

A campaign ad for President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE’s reelection has been criticized as misleading this week for including a photo of protesters taken in Ukraine in 2014. 

The Facebook ad in question contrasts a photo of the president and other officials with one of protesters appearing to attack a police officer on the ground. The images are accompanied by the text: “Public Safety vs. Chaos & Violence.” 

Posts including the images were first run on Tuesday and are now inactive, according to Facebook's Ad Library. The ad, tagged by “Evangelicals for Trump,” was run in three posts with different text, and all three got fewer than 1,000 impressions. 


Photojournalist Mstyslav Chernov confirmed to Business Insider that the photo included in the ad was taken in Kyiv in 2014. The picture, which is available on Wikimedia Commons — Wikipedia’s public-domain media archive — has a Creative Commons 3.0 license, meaning anyone can use it if the photographer is credited. The ad did not credit the photographer.  

"Photography has always been used to manipulate public opinion. And with the rise of social media and the rise of populism, this is happening even more," Chernov told Business Insider. "The only way to combat this is through education and media literacy. When people learn to independently distinguish truth from lies, then the number of manipulations will decrease."

The photo was taken two days before Russia annexed Ukraine's region of Crimea. 


The Trump campaign did not immediately return a request for comment. 

The Facebook ad comes as Trump seeks to position himself as the "law and order" candidate amid ongoing protests across the nation. 

The president has sent federal law enforcement into Portland, Ore., as the city sees demonstrations against police brutality spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. The federal officers, against the wishes of local leaders, have used tear gas and nonlethal munitions on protesters in the city.

Trump on Monday threatened to send federal law enforcement into other cities as well, such as New York and Chicago, to quell demonstrations.