Warren Facebook Ad Attacking Facebook for Running False Ads Is False

Warren claimed networks would ban false Trump ads, when they are legally barred from doing so.

Elizabeth Warren
Getty Images
October 18, 2019

An ad the Elizabeth Warren campaign ran on Facebook attacking the social media platform for accepting false campaign ads from politicians was, in turn, false.

The Democratic presidential candidate has long butted heads with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and promises to break up the social media giant if elected. Most recently, Warren has been critical of Facebook's policy to not fact-check ads run by politicians.

The Oct. 10 Warren ad opens with an intentional falsehood for rhetorical effect: "Breaking news: Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook just endorsed Donald Trump for re-election."

"You're probably shocked, and you might be thinking, 'How could this possibly be true?' Well, it's not. (Sorry)," the ad continues. "But what Zuckerberg *has* done is given Donald Trump free rein to lie on his platform—and then to pay Facebook gobs of money to push out their lies to American voters."

But in the part of the ad that intended to be factual, the Warren campaign claims, "If Trump tries to lie in a TV ad, most networks will refuse to air it. But Facebook just cashes Trump's checks."

As the fact-checker PolitiFact noted, that is not true. Broadcasters are legally obligated under the Federal Communications Act of 1934 to run any candidate's ad, regardless of whether they think the content is true or not. "The same law does not apply to cable networks, but those networks also generally aim to run such ads, experts told us," PolitiFact said.

Ultimately PolitiFact gave Warren a "Mostly False," as she was correct in saying that Facebook would run a Trump ad that it believed to contain a lie.

"But overall, it’s inaccurate to say that 'most networks' will refuse to air an ad by Trump with a lie in it," the fact-checker said. "We could find no evidence that most networks reject false candidate ads."