An ad for Dennis Prager's documentary "No Safe Spaces," which focuses on the stifling of free speech on college campuses, has been rejected by Facebook because the buyer of the ad will not identify as partisan.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Facebook recently implemented a new policy that requires organizations to disclose their political affiliations when purchasing an ad related to "issues of national importance." The rule has led to apolitical organizations having their ads blocked, including fundraisers for veterans.
In the Prager situation, a California charter school wanted to advertise a screening of "No Safe Spaces" on its campus, only to have Facebook demand that the school identify as partisan. Since the school simply wanted to focus on the movie's free speech angle and had no political affiliation, they refused to comply with Facebook's demands.
"We all know what happens on campus doesn’t stay on campus,” said the Facebook video ad. "Help us prove we can work through our disagreements to create a better country."
Acton Placer Academy's CEO, Matt Beaudreau, said he did not see any reason to identify as a politico because the screening simply wanted to highlight free speech — a constitutional right. Also, the screening was organized by high school seniors fulfilling an "entrepreneurial" requirement. Dave Rubin, a noted "classical liberal," was slated to deliver an introduction prior to the screening.
"They asked me a bunch of personal questions, then said I’d need to identify as a political entity, even though the ad doesn’t mention a party or a politician and takes no political stance whatsoever," said Beaudreau. "Facebook said if we don’t disclose a political affiliation, the ads won’t run. But we’re a nonpartisan school. We’re not a political entity. We’re not going to do that. We have as many parents who are Democrats as we have who are Republicans. The whole purpose of the event is to show that people can put politics aside and have civil debate."
The event will still go on as planned, with tickets ranging from $15 to $35 apiece for a seat at the William Jessup University theater. Though Beadreau had planned to pay $5,000 for the ad, he told THR that they will be "advertising elsewhere."
Adam Carolla, who made the film in concert with Dennis Prager, issued no comment on the controversy. Prager, however, said it represents just another example of the Left undermining free speech.
"Unlike liberals, who always valued and fought to protect free speech, leftists have never valued free speech," Prager told THR. "And the left controls the avenues of information on the Internet. That’s what this is about."
Facebook told THR that the ad itself was not in question and would be allowed to run if the buyers identified their political affiliation.
"This ad is allowed to run on Facebook but, before it can run, we ask that they comply with our policy related to issues of national importance by authorizing and then including a ‘paid for’ by disclaimer on the ad," Facebook said. "We are committed to transparency and have many different types of pages, including films, that go through these additional steps to run ads related to issues of national importance."