In a curious sequence of events Monday that has gained the attention of some folks online, Facebook temporarily pulled some ads placed by Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) on Friday calling for the breakup of tech giants, including Facebook, which has acquired Instagram and WhatsApp.
After scrutiny, particularly by Politico, Facebook restored the Warren ads Monday and issued a statement saying the ads violated their advertising policies and they were only restoring them for the sake of encouraging "robust debate."
"Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google," read Warren's temporarily pulled campaign ads. "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."
The ads promoted the progressive senator's new plan announced in a Team Warren blog post Friday which declares: "It's time to breakup Amazon, Google, and Facebook." In an example of "Using Mergers to Limit Competition," Warren writes, "Facebook has purchased potential competitors Instagram and WhatsApp." She also specifically calls out Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg:
Weak antitrust enforcement has led to a dramatic reduction in competition and innovation in the tech sector. Venture capitalists are now hesitant to fund new startups to compete with these big tech companies because it’s so easy for the big companies to either snap up growing competitors or drive them out of business. The number of tech startups has slumped, there are fewer high-growth young firms typical of the tech industry, and first financing rounds for tech startups have declined 22% since 2012.
With fewer competitors entering the market, the big tech companies do not have to compete as aggressively in key areas like protecting our privacy. And some of these companies have grown so powerful that they can bully cities and states into showering them with massive taxpayer handouts in exchange for doing business, and can act — in the words of Mark Zuckerberg — “more like a government than a traditional company.”
But, Politico notes, the ads were soon scrubbed and replaced with a message: "This ad was taken down because it goes against Facebook's advertising policies."
After Politico reported the "takedown" on Monday, Facebook quickly reversed course, restoring the ads. A spokesperson told the outlet the only reason the ads were removed is because they violated the platform's policies by using their corporate logo.
"We removed the ads because they violated our policies against use of our corporate logo," the spokesperson told Politico. "In the interest of allowing robust debate, we are restoring the ads.”
Politico notes that over a dozen other ads by Warren about her "big tech breakup" proposal weren't pulled.
Facebook "Brand Usage in Ads" policy states: "Don’t use the Facebook corporate logo in an ad. The logo is reserved for corporate use." Here's the full policy statement:
Ads linking to Facebook or Instagram content (including Pages, groups, events or sites that use Facebook Login) may make limited reference to “Facebook” or “Instagram” in ad text for the purpose of clarifying the destination of the ad.
Ads should not represent the Facebook brand in a way that makes it the most distinctive or prominent feature of the creative.
Facebook brand assets should not be modified in any way, such as by changing the design or color, or for the purpose of special effects or animation.
- Do always display the word “Facebook” in the same font size and style as the text surrounding it
- Do always capitalize the word “Facebook”, except when it’s part of a web address
- Don’t pluralize the Facebook trademark, abbreviate it as “FB” or use it as a verb
- Don’t use the “f” or Facebook logos in place of the word “Facebook” in ad copy
- Don’t use the Facebook corporate logo in an ad. The logo is reserved for corporate use
Below is Warren talking with CNN about her big "breakup" plan in a video posted on Facebook: