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Facebook briefly removed Elizabeth Warren’s ads that said Facebook has too much power

Updated Mar 12th, 2019 8:39AM EDT
Elizabeth Warren vs. Facebook
Image: LODI Franck/SIPA/Shutterstock

Facebook inadvertently helped Senator Elizabeth Warren’s new campaign by taking down a Warren add that said Facebook has too much power. Unsurprisingly, Facebook’s move made the news because Warren has been calling for the breakup of big tech companies including Facebook, warning against their increased power. While the removal of the ads may seem like some sort of defense against Warren’s new push, Facebook does appear to have had grounds to remove the ads.

The removal first reported by Politico forced Facebook to backpedal and restore the ads.

“Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google,” read the ads that were placed on Facebook on Friday. “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.”

Facebook took them down claiming that the ads went “against Facebook’s advertising policies.”

“We removed the ads because they violated our policies against use of our corporate logo,” a Facebook spokesperson told Politico. “In the interest of allowing robust debate, we are restoring the ads.”

Warren was quick to take a hit at Facebook for the whole mess over on Twitter.

“Curious why I think FB has too much power? Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power,” she said. “Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn’t dominated by a single censor.”

Facebook has been banning ads that include the Facebook logo or the word “Facebook” for almost a decade Gizmodo explains.

“Given users were often confused by the ad units, there was a global ban on not only using the logo but even using the word ‘Facebook’ in the ad copy,” former Facebook advertising manager Antonio Garcia Marquez. “Think about it: other than this weird Warren use case, who could possibly be legitimately using the company’s name?”

Facebook’s former security chief Alex Stamos also took to Twitter to explain that the decision to ban Warren’s ads wasn’t done knowingly. “It’s really the inevitable outcome of having thousands of contractors take 12 seconds to click ‘yup, that’s a banned logo,’” he said.

That’s not to say that Warren and others aren’t right to say that some tech companies may have too much power, Facebook included. At the same time, $100, which is how much the ads cost, and familiarity with Facebook’s advertising program would ensure that a campaign attacking Facebook on Facebook would go viral, reaching a lot more people than a $100 budget would get you.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.