Pelosi slams Facebook for running misleading Trump campaign census ads

Pelosi slams Facebook for running misleading Trump campaign census ads
© Greg Nash

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Trump is betting big on the suburbs, but his strategy is failing 'bigly' Trump orders flags at half-staff to honor 'trailblazer' Ginsburg MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday slammed Facebook for allowing President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE's reelection campaign to run misleading advertisements about the census.

In more than a thousand ads running on the Facebook pages of Trump and Vice President Pence, the campaign is urging 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, then make a donation.

The ads were first reported by political newsletter Popular Information.

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

"I know the profit motive is their business model, but it should not come at the cost of counting who is in our country so that we can provide the services. The beautiful diversity of America is what this administration fears, they want it undercounted. They're misrepresenting on Facebook and Facebook is saying that this misrepresentation is consistent with their policies."

Facebook in December announced it would ban all posts including misleading information about the U.S. census.

The policy also 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. 

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ads.

The importance of the census, which is conducted every 10 years, has led many social media companies to introduce policies combating misinformation about it beyond their existing standards.

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The data collected from the census determines the allocation of federal funding and is key in the drawing of congressional districts.

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, hit Facebook for allowing Trump's ads.

"Facebook must take the ads down immediately and actually enforce its own policy moving forward," she tweeted.

"If Trump says a fake census is 'official,' people are going to think it’s official. Trump’s deceptive ads will confuse people about how and when to participate in the #2020Census, threatening their right to get counted and bring resources and political power to their communities."