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Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus

Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus
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Facebook said it has removed 15-second Trump campaign ads that baselessly connect admission of refugees to transmission of the coronavirus.

The advertising features footage of Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE discussing border security. It claims without evidence that Biden would increase refugee admissions from Somalia, Syria and Yemen 700 percent, according to NBC News. It also includes text alleging “an increase in refugees” presents public health risks.

The campaign ran the ads beginning on Tuesday targeted to key swing states like Florida and North Carolina. Some of the variations received thousands or tens of thousands of impressions before being removed the next day, according to NBC.

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A longer version of the ads with a similar premise remained up on Facebook as of Thursday.

“We rejected these ads because we don’t allow claims that people’s physical safety, health, or survival is threatened by people on the basis of their national origin or immigration status,” Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement.

The president’s reelection campaign defended the content of the ads in a statement to The Hill.

“While President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE took decisive action to restrict travel from China to slow the spread of coronavirus and saved countless lives, Joe Biden was busy calling the President xenophobic and arm-chair quarterbacking his pandemic response. Americans deserve to know that if Joe Biden were president, he would ‘immediately surge the border’ and increase refugees, exposing Americans to further risk of exposure to COVID-19. When it comes to leading our nation through this crisis and delivering the Great American Comeback, Americans can rely on President Trump.” campaign spokesperson Courtney Parella said in the statement.

The social media giant has faced criticism by those who call it overly lenient on misinformation in general and about the coronavirus pandemic in general.

In July, Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineJustice Department charges Google with illegally maintaining search monopoly Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL MORE (D-R.I.), the chairman of the House antitrust subcommittee, grilled CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs MORE on whether the platform’s business model incentivizes such misinformation.

"With all due respect, the problem is Facebook is profiting off and amplifying disinformation that harms others because it’s profitable," Cicilline said. "This isn’t a speech issue. It's about Facebook’s business model that prioritizes engagement in order to keep people on Facebook’s platform."