Politics & Policy

Facebook Removes, Then Quickly Reinstates, Elizabeth Warren’s Ads Calling for Big Tech Regulation

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, Mass.) speaks to reporters after announcing she has formed an exploratory committee to run for president in 2020, outside her home in Cambridge, Mass., December 31, 2018. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Facebook on Monday removed, and subsequently reinstated, three ads purchased by Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D., Mass.) 2020 presidential campaign that called for the breakup of large tech companies, including Facebook.

The ads, which were placed Friday, informed prospective voters that Warren will seek to break up “anti-competitive” mergers between large tech companies, and cited Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp as an example of such a nefarious arrangement.

“Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google,” read the ads, the removal of which was first reported by Politico. “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.”

“This ad was taken down because it goes against Facebook’s advertising policies,” reads a message on the three affected ads.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Politico that the ads “were taken down because they violated our policies against use of our corporate logo,” but later decided to reinstate them “in the interest of allowing robust debate.”

The ads, which were placed for less than $100 each, direct would-be supporters to Warren’s campaign website, where they are urged to donate “to support our plan to break up these big tech companies.”

Warren has differentiated herself from her fellow Democratic presidential contenders in calling for direct government intervention to downsize large tech companies. The removal of Warren’s ads comes days after she detailed her vision for tech regulation in a lengthy blog post, in which she argued that any tech platforms with more than $25 billion in revenue should be designated a “platform utility” and, as such, should be prohibited from profiting off the data of its users.

“Companies with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties would be designated as “platform utilities,” she wrote. “These companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform. Platform utilities would be required to meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users. Platform utilities would not be allowed to transfer or share data with third parties.”

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