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Elizabeth Warren is vying for the Democratic Party nomination for 2020. Here are five things you should know about the senator from Massachusetts.
USA TODAY

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has been in a feud with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and now she’s using his own platform against him with a new ad calling out the Facebook policy against fact-checking politicians.

“Breaking news: Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook just endorsed Donald Trump for re-election,” the ad begins.

“You’re probably shocked, and you might be thinking, ‘how could this possibly be true?'” it continues. “Well it’s not. (Sorry.) But what Zuckerberg *has* done is given Trump free rein to lie on his platform — and then to pay Facebook gobs of money to push out their lies to American voters.”

Warren is referring to a Facebook advertising policy that allows for politicians to present false or misleading information in ads due to the belief that any statement from a political figure is important to the public interest.

Facebook ads, in general, are subject to a third-party fact-checking system. Ads with claims debunked by the fact-checkers are prohibited. Facebook says that ads are reviewed prior to being made public.

Politicians, however, are exempt from that fact-checking program. A senior Facebook official explained that policy in a speech last month.

“We rely on third-party fact-checkers to help reduce the spread of false news and other types of viral misinformation, like memes or manipulated photos and videos,” Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg said. 

“We don’t believe, however, that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny,” Clegg added.

Rather, Facebook “demotes” politician-generated ad content that has previously been determined false.

The politician advertising policy has come under recent scrutiny because of a Trump campaign ad featuring claims about former Vice President Joe Biden’s involvement with Ukraine that is not supported with credible evidence.

The Biden campaign requested that Facebook and other sites remove that ad due to misinformation, but Facebook refused, citing its policy. 

“Joe Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company,” Trump’s ad claimed.

In fact, the prosecutor in question was considered by the United States and international groups to be ineffective at rooting out corruption in Ukraine. There is no credible evidence for the assertion that the ouster of the prosecutor was intended to benefit Hunter Biden.

More: CNN says it won’t air a Trump campaign ad featuring ‘false’ claim against Biden

Warren said in her ad, “If Trump tries to lie in a TV ad, most networks will refuse to air it. But Facebook just cashes Trump’s checks.”

CNN and NBCUniversal both refused to air Trump’s ad targeting Biden with the Ukraine claims.

The Trump campaign spent more than $1 million on Facebook ads in one week in September to beat back the impeachment inquiry, ABC News reports. The ads come as House Democrats push their impeachment inquiry over whether the president pressured Ukraine’s leader to investigate Biden in exchange for military aid.

Warren’s ad is the latest in her battle with big tech companies over her plan to promote competition in the tech industry and roll back tech company mergers, such as Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp.

In leaked audio published by The Verge, Zuckerberg said “If she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge.”

Warren replied in a series of tweets, saying she is “not afraid to hold Big Tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon accountable.”

More: Warren hits back at Facebook’s Zuckerberg after he criticized her plan to break up big tech

“Facebook holds incredible power to affect elections and our national debate. They’ve decided to let political figures lie to you—even about Facebook itself—while their executives and their investors get even richer off the ads containing these lies,” Warren tweeted Saturday about her new Facebook ad.

“If Senator Warren wants to say things she knows to be untrue, we believe Facebook should not be in the position of censoring that speech,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNN in a statement.

Contributing: Rebecca Morin

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