Facebook took down ads on President Trump’s pages Thursday featuring a symbol identical to one used by Nazis to designate political prisoners in concentration camps. The social media company said the ads violated its policies against “organized hate.”
The ads opposed left-wing “mobs” and Antifa, and they appeared on the Facebook pages for President Trump and his reelection campaign, as well as the page for Vice President Pence. The ads started running on Wednesday and were viewed about one million times before being taken down, according to Facebook’s ad library.
The ads featured an upside-down red triangle along with the words: “Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem. They are DESTROYING our cities and rioting — it’s absolute madness.” The ads called on supporters to stand by Mr. Trump’s decision to designate Antifa — a loose collective of anti-fascist protest movements — as a terrorist organization.
According to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Nazis used an identical inverted triangle symbol for camp prisoners, with a color coding system. Red triangles, like those seen in the Trump ads, identified political prisoners, while Jewish political prisoners were classified by a yellow triangle beneath a red triangle. Different colored triangles were used for communists, homosexuals and other categories of prisoners.
The Washington Post first reported on the ads and their connection to Nazi symbolism.
“The Nazis used red triangles to identify their political victims in concentration camps,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote on Twitter. “Using it to attack political opponents is highly offensive. @POTUS’ campaign needs to learn its history, as ignorance is no excuse for using Nazi-related symbols.”
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a press statement, “We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate. Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”
The Trump campaign responded by claiming without evidence that the inverted red triangle is “a symbol widely used by Antifa.” It also pointed out that a similar triangle is an emoji.
This is at least the second time this year Facebook took down ads from the Trump campaign that it said violated company policies. In March, Facebook removed Trump campaign ads thatas an “Official 2020 Congressional District Census.” The company said this violated policies against misinformation about the U.S. census.
Facebook has otherwise largely taken ato inflammatory and misleading content from the president, leading some employees stage walkouts against CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to crack down. Other social networks have taken steps to rein in more extreme posts, with starting to or in some tweets and opting not to promote the president’s account.