Facebook used an erroneous fact check as justification to block two ads by pro-life group the Susan B. Anthony List on Friday.
The S.B.A. List has claimed in the past that Facebook moved to censor ads and other content promoted by the group. Facebook’s decision to block the new ads came two days after both Facebook and Twitter moved to limit access to a New York Post article on Hunter Biden, causing Senate Republicans to decry “censorship” of the social media platforms.
Facebook is “working to reinstate the ads,” spokesman Devon Kearns told National Review on Friday evening. “The initial rejection was as a result of the fact check which…has now been repealed.”
The new ads from the S.B.A. List claim that Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris support the right to an abortion up to the moment of birth. While the candidates have not explicitly stated support for aborting a fetus using the words “up to the moment of birth,” both have supported “codifying” the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade into law. Conservatives have warned that this would install legal loopholes that keep open the possibility of late-term abortions.
A fact check from the Dispatch early on Friday stated that the claim in the ads was false. Apparently based on the Dispatch‘s fact check, Facebook labeled the ads “partially false” and directed the SBA List to appeal the label directly to the third-party fact checker.
Screenshot: Facebook has flagged our ad as "partly false," and links to the so-called "fact check" article: pic.twitter.com/6iwKtrBDfv
— Susan B. Anthony List (@SBAList) October 16, 2020
On Friday afternoon, the Dispatch announced that the fact check was published by mistake.
“The fact-check was published in error and in draft form, before it had been through final edits and our own internal fact-checking process. As a result, the [ad] was assigned a ‘partly false’ rating that we have determined is not justified,” Dispatch editor Steve Hayes wrote in a post. “We regret the error and apologize to the Women Speak Out PAC. We’ve pulled the fact-check and lifted the rating.”
Mallory Quigley, Vice President of Communications for the S.B.A. List, told National Review that the group was not notified of the fact check in advance.
“Neither Facebook or the Dispatch reached out to us,” Quigley said. According to Quigley, Facebook has not yet returned the S.B.A. List’s request for comment on the incident.
In a statement on the organization’s website, S.B.A. List president Marjorie Dannenfelser commented, “This is the latest example of Facebook censoring political speech and is perfectly timed to shut down S.B.A. List’s vital digital communications as we work to reach eight million voters in key battlegrounds in the final days before Election Day.”