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Facebook Denies Biden Campaign Request to Remove Trump Ad Alleging Ukraine Corruption

Attendees walk past a Facebook logo at the company’s developers conference in San Jose, Calif., April 30, 2019. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)

Facebook on Tuesday shut down a request from Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign to pull a Trump campaign advertisement alleging that the former vice president improperly used his office to boost his son’s business dealings in Ukraine.

The mammoth social media platform said the move was “grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and belief that in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” according to a letter from Facebook’s head of global elections policy, Katie Harbath, to the Biden campaign.

The Trump campaign’s 30-second video, which has been viewed over 5 million times, ad claimed that Biden offered Ukraine $1 billion in aid, provided the country oust the prosecutor in charge of an investigation into the natural gas company that was paying the former vice president’s son, Hunter Biden.

The Biden campaign excoriated Facebook’s decision, calling it “unacceptable.”

“Whether it originates from the Kremlin or Trump Tower, these lies and conspiracy theories threaten to undermine the integrity of our elections in America,” said campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo in a statement. “It is unacceptable for any social media company to knowingly allow deliberately misleading material to corrupt its platform.”

CNN meanwhile refused to air the ad, saying it peddled “assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets.”

Facebook has come under fire for allowing misinformation related to politics and elections on its platform, largely from bad actors misrepresenting their identity. While the company said in August that it will tighten its rules on political advertising ahead of the 2020 elections, Facebook added last month that it does not fact-check posts by politicians and allows such content to remain on the platform even if it breaks the company’s content rules.

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