Accuracy in Media

Chris Hayes of MSNBC accused Facebook on Wednesday of bowing to pressure from President Trump to run ads that are false and misleading against Joe Biden.

Hayes said in setting up an interview with Judd Legum, a former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer and editor of a newsletter on politics, that Trump’s recent meeting with Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg resulted in a change to the rules that govern ads on Facebook to a policy that says political ads won’t be checked for truth.

In his opening, he said the Trump campaign is paying $1 million a week – Legum later upped it to $1.6 million – “and what the Trump campaign has been paying to do is flood Facebook with bogus, flatly false ads about Joe Biden. One such false ad, released last week, has already been viewed 5 million times on the site.”

Hayes talked about false ads throughout the interview but never identified which ads he was talking about or what facts are false.

He went to say that “Despite complaints from the Biden campaign, Facebook is refusing to take down the false ads. And Biden’s leading rival for the Democratic presidential nomination right now, Elizabeth Warren, is now accusing Facebook of essentially buckling to a direct pressure campaign from the president himself.”

According to Hayes, Warren charged that, after the meeting between Zuckerberg and Trump, “Facebook quietly changed its policies on ‘misinformation’ in ads, allowing politicians to run ads that have already been debunked by independent, non-partisan fact checkers. Put another way, Facebook is now OK with running political ads with known lies.”

He said Facebook denies that it changed its policies but admits it allows false political ads. Hayes said Nick Clegg, a Facebook executive, said recently “We don’t believe it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience. That’s why Facebook exempts politicians from our third-party fact-checking program.”

Under the program, Facebook partners with liberal fact-checking services, such as PolitiFact and to evaluate questionable content.

Hayes then descended into Russia conspiracy talk.

“Warren as you may remember, has a plan to break up Facebook and other tech giants,” he said. “Monday she pointed out that Facebook helped Trump get elected in the first place in 2016 in part by allowing Russian trolls to run rampant on the platform. This time around, she said, quote, ‘They’re going further by taking deliberate steps to help one candidate intentionally mislead the American people.’”

He then turned to the camera and said, “I should note that some of the same ads now running on Facebook have been rejected from networks because they are so patently false.”

He then brought in Legum, who said Facebook has a written ad policy that used to forbid “any false or misleading ad. There were no caveats.”

This was replaced, Legum said, with a section that says you can’t run an ad deemed false by the third-party fact checkers. He said the recent Biden ad Hayes discussed but never described or displayed “had been rejected by two or three of their fact-checkers.”

Then, they teamed up to take a shot at President Trump over the transcript of the call with the president of Ukraine that is at the center of recent impeachment talk in the House of Representatives.

“They spend $1.6 million a week, and many of these ads are false or misleading,” Legum said of the Trump campaign. “Even in your first segment, you were talking about how the Trump campaign has not released a transcript. There’s an ad campaign that was released today by the Trump campaign. There’s dozens and dozens of the variations targeting voters all over the country, and the very first line in the ad is we’ve released a transcript.”

Trump did release a transcript of the call, and it has matched up with every claim others have made about the call.

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