Biden Campaign Pays for Facebook Ads While Criticizing Zuckerberg's Platform as 'Threat' to Democracy

Joe Biden's election campaign has accused Facebook of being a "threat" to democracy, while simultaneously paying the website to run ads.

In a series of paid ads earlier this month, the Democratic presidential candidate's team asked users to sign a petition demanding that Facebook change its policies about fact checking, fake news and misinformation "for the sake of our democracy."

Funded by the Biden Victory Fund, some of the advertising posts had a potential reach of more than one million people, the social network's Ad Library shows.

The similarly-worded messages, which ran between 13-15 July, echoed Biden's earlier open letter to the Mark Zuckerberg-led platform, which accused Facebook of failing to "limit the effect of false ads" while letting President Donald Trump "say anything."

According to Facebook's statistics, the Biden campaign spent more than $809,500 on its paid advertising in a recent seven-day period, from 19 to 25 July. For comparison, Trump's Facebook page spent $3,166,267 during the same timeframe.

Asking for 203 additional signatures, one recent Biden advert read: "We could lie to you, but we won't. Donald Trump and his Republican allies, on the other hand, spend MILLIONS on Facebook ads like this one that spread dangerous misinformation about everything from how to vote to the legitimacy of our democratic process.

"But Facebook has decided politicians can say anything they want in their posts and ads, regardless of pesky details like whether it's true or not.

"With a president who lies as much as Trump, and Republicans across the country who won't stand up to him, this policy is a dangerous threat to our democracy."

As reported by the Associated Press (AP), Trump's campaign has purchased Facebook advertising to attack social media rival Twitter for trying to "silence" him and influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential election in November.

Urging Facebook users to contribute "any amount" of money, the advertisement from the president's team read: "The Fake News media has begun working hand-in-hand with liberal platforms like Twitter to wrongly CENSOR conservative voices."

The June 23 ad continued: "We need to make a statement SO HUGE that not even Jack Dorsey and his biased Twitter puppets will be able to silence us."

It also had a potential reach of one million-plus, showing the vast scale of campaigns on the platform, which earns money from the same users who criticize it openly.

Facebook, which has approximately 2.6 billion monthly active users, generated about 98 percent of its global annual revenue from paid advertising last year.

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey announced in October last year his platform was banning all political advertising. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported Facebook execs were considering a similar ban on political ads ahead of the U.S. election.

In a speech at Georgetown University last year, the billionaire Facebook boss explained why his platform does not fact-check political ad campaigns.

He said: "We don't do this to help politicians... we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying. And if content is newsworthy, we also won't take it down even if it would otherwise conflict with many of our standards."

While trying to navigate mounting criticism, Facebook has now started to put labels and links to accurate voting information on politicians' posts about the election.

Zuckerberg's platform was caught up in a widespread advertising boycott this month after a coalition of civil rights groups accused it of failing to combat hate speech and extremist material. Trump and Biden, meanwhile, are still very much active.

Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Chase Center July 14, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden delivered remarks on his campaign's "Build Back Better" clean energy economic plan. Chip Somodevilla/Getty