Facebook Removes Trump Post on Refugees and Bans Ads Promoting QAnon, Questioning Election Results

Facebook has taken down misleading ads from the Trump reelection campaign, which baselessly claimed that accepting refugees into the U.S. would leave Americans more vulnerable to COVID-19.

At least 38 different versions of the ad were posted on Facebook on Tuesday, before being taken down by the site on Wednesday. One version of the ad, which targeted people in North Carolina, received more than 60,000 impressions before it was removed.

The ad also claimed, without evidence, that Trump's rival Joe Biden would increase the number of refugees arriving in the U.S. from Syria, Somalia and Yemen by 700 percent if he became president.

"We rejected these ads because we don't allow claims that people's physical safety, health, or survival is threatened by people on the basis of their national origin or immigration status," Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told NBC News.

Trump has also been running ads that falsely claim that Biden wore an earpiece during the first election debate, asked for breaks during the debate, and refused to take a drug test to prove that he had not been taking performance-enhancing substances.

The removal of the post comes as Facebook announced it is banning ads that call into question the legitimacy of the election, and those that "praise, support or represent militarized social movements and QAnon."

QAnon is a conspiracy theory that claims Democrats and members of an underground movement known as the Deep State are working to undermine Trump's presidency, and that Hillary Clinton was involved in a ring of Satan-worshipping pedophiles based at a Washington, D.C. pizzeria.

Ads questioning the election's legitimacy

Facebook's Rob Leathern tweeted on September 30: "As we get closer to Election Day we want to provide further clarity on policies we recently announced. Last week we said we'd prohibit ads that make premature declarations of victory. We also won't allow ads with content that seeks to delegitimize the outcome of an election.

"For example, this would include calling a method of voting inherently fraudulent or corrupt, or using isolated incidents of voter fraud to delegitimize the result of an election."

This policy applies to ads running on both Facebook and Instagram.

President Trump last week refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he was to lose the election, and has repeatedly questioned the integrity of mail-in ballots. He has also already suggested that the election could be rigged against him.

Ads praising QAnon banned

On September 16, Facebook started down-ranking content from pages and groups associated with QAnon and other "militarized social movements," but the social network stepped up its efforts on September 30.

"We are taking steps to address evidence that QAnon adherents are increasingly using the issue of child safety and hashtags like #savethechildren to recruit and organize," the company wrote in an update to a blog post.

"Starting today, we will direct people to credible child safety resources when they search for certain child safety hashtags. In addition, content about QAnon and child safety is eligible for fact checking through our third-party fact-checking program.

"Content that is debunked will be reduced in News Feed and filtered from Explore and hashtags on Instagram, will receive a label (so that people who see it, try to share it or already have, will see more context), and it will be rejected as an ad."

Facebook says it will not accept new political ads in the week before the 2020 presidential election, which is scheduled for November 3.

QAnon sign Donald Trump rally Pennsylvania
A woman holds up a QAnon sign to the media as attendees wait for President Donald Trump to speak at a campaign rally at Atlantic Aviation on September 22, 2020 in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Facebook has announced a ban on ads praising QAnon and other "militarized social movements." Jeff Swensen/Getty Images