Facebook took down an Elizabeth Warren ad about breaking up Facebook

The social media giant restored the ad after its removal was noticed Monday night.

FILE - Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a Democratic presidential hopeful, speaks during an event at a home in Laconia, N.H., Feb. 23, 2019. Warren is set to announce a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook. (Elizabeth Frantz/The New York Times)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a Democratic presidential hopeful, speaks during an event last month at a home in Laconia, New Hampshire. –Elizabeth Frantz / The New York Times

Facebook might be helping Sen. Elizabeth Warren prove her point about its power.

According to Politico, the social media giant temporarily removed an Facebook ad from Warren’s presidential campaign promoting her newly unveiled plan to break up some of the biggest tech companies, including Facebook.

“Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google. We all use them. But in their rise to power, they’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field in their favor. It’s time to break up these big companies so they don’t have so much power over everyone else. If you agree, add your name now,” read the ad, which includes a 90-second video and a link to a petition in support of her proposal.

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According to Facebook’s ad archive, Warren’s campaign placed three identical versions of the ad Friday, the same day she released her aggressive, anti-monopoly tech plan. Her team spent less than $100 on each of the ads, according to the company.

Politico reported Monday night that all three had been taken down. However, within 20 minutes after their article published, Facebook reversed course. A company spokesperson told Politico that the ads had violated their ad rules against using Facebook’s corporate logo.

“In the interest of allowing robust debate, we are restoring the ads,” the spokesperson said.

Over the weekend, Warren’s campaign also ran several other ads (which didn’t include the video with Facebook’s logo) calling for the breakup of big tech companies, which were not taken down.

Still, that didn’t stop the Massachusetts Democrat from using the removal episode to further illustrate her point about Facebook’s power.

“I wanted a social media marketplace that isn’t dominated by a single censor,” she tweeted Monday night.

Warren also sent out a fundraising email Monday night about pulled ad.

“Facebook is letting us share our video again (thanks, by the way),” the email read. “But if you want proof of Elizabeth’s point that Facebook has too much power, look no further than their ability to shut down a debate over… whether Facebook has too much power.”

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The email also suggested that this wasn’t the only example of Facebook “pulling down an ad that could be seen as critical” and asked supporters to chip in to help the campaign spread the word about the senator’s proposal to break up “Big Tech.”

Under Warren’s plan, companies the bring in more than $25 billion in annual global revenue and provide “an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties” would be designated as “platform utilities,” and would thus be prohibited from both owning and participating in the platform. The senator also says that, as president, she would appoint regulators committed to breaking up “anti-competitive mergers,” including Facebook’s acquisitions of fellow social media platforms WhatsApp and Instagram.

Warren argues that spinning off WhatsApp and Instagram back into separate, competing companies would press Facebook to improve its “user experience” and “protect our privacy.”

“More competition means more options for consumers and content creators, and more pressure on companies like Facebook to address the glaring problems with their businesses,” she wrote in a Medium post last week.

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