Facebook’s updated, more rigid rules for political advertising have ensnared something near and dear to President Trump’s heart — his businesses.
Several ads for Trump International Hotels have been taken down for violating Facebook’s policy, requiring political advertisers to include a “paid for by” label on their posts. Trump hotels in Las Vegas, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., were flagged and pulled in recent weeks, according to Facebook’s archive of political ads.
“This ad ran without a ‘Paid for by’ label,'” read one Facebook explainer for why the ads were flagged. “After the ad started running, we determined that the ad had political content and required the label. The ad was taken down.”
The ads reviewed by TheWrap cost a few hundred dollars to run, and were posted between April and June of this year.
What’s political about hotel advertisements, though?
Facebook updated its ad policy last fall in response to the company’s failure to curb Russia-backed efforts to spread disinformation, fake news, and conflict-fostering content on social media during the 2016 election. Among the changes, political advertisements must include a “paid for by” tag, and the advertisers must verify their identities with part of their social security numbers, and by confirming their addresses.
The promos for Trump’s hotels were flagged because they weren’t placed by verified political advertisers, and didn’t include a “paid for by” tag. But the issue isn’t that they actually are political ads — it’s the last names of the team running the Trump business empire: the president’s sons Eric and Donald Jr. Because Facebook’s new advertising rules cast a wide net, names associated with current and former politicians are being flagged by that system. Which means even apolitical ads — like those promos for Trump International Hotels — are now in the crosshairs.
Even the president’s daughter has been dinged. At least one ad for “Ivanka Trump HQ,” showing a 25 percent off sale on Ivanka Trump’s website, was flagged for not having a “paid for by” tag.
But before the president starts angry-tweeting about it, this is not just a Trump problem. As Bloomberg reported on Monday, ads with the name “Clinton,” have also been flagged by Facebook. And even an ad for a waxing salon that read “we promise your bush won’t bewilder us!” was flagged for the word “bush.”