Earlier this week, Facebook took down several Trump campaign ads over alleged violations of their advertising policies. They must have been terrible, horribly offensive ads, right? Heck, even I thought they must have been tasteless ads that were reasonably taken down… and then I saw one of the offensive ads:
That’s right. The above ad violated Facebook’s advertising policies.
What did this and other offensive Trump ads do that was so terrible? They targeted women. The website Popular Information explains:
Facebook’s advertising guidelines list thirty varieties of prohibited content. Number twelve on the list prohibits ads that target “personal attributes.” Facebook says ads must not include “direct or indirect assertions or implications about a person’s… gender identity.”
Trump’s ad is clearly prohibited, but Facebook allowed it to run until an inquiry by Popular Information. “We’ve notified the campaign that the ads violate policy. They can’t continue to run unless fixed,” a Facebook spokesperson told Popular Information.
According to a report from The Hill, it was Popular Information’s inquiry to Facebook that got the ad taken down. A spokesperson for Facebook told The Hill, “We’ve notified the campaign that the ads violate policy. They cannot continue to run unless fixed.”
So, let me get this straight. The Trump campaign runs an ad that says “The Women for Trump Coalition needs the support of strong Women like you” and somehow that’s so offensive that it violates Facebook’s ad policies?
Here’s the problem with this absurd policy. Facebook’s advertising platform allows users to target based on gender, age, location, and interests. As someone who has used Facebook advertising many times in the past to promote my books, I’m familiar with the platform. If you want to advertise on Facebook, one of the first things you have to do is determine what your target audience is.
Here’s the what you see when you do this:
If targeting women is a violation of Facebook advertising policies, why does Facebook allow advertisers to… target women? If you can create an audience for women, it stands to reason that you can create an ad that’s designed to get clicks from women. At least I thought so. Apparently that “asserts or implies personal attributes,” like “direct or indirect assertions or implications about a person’s … gender identity.”
Can anyone explain what is so offensive about a campaign trying to build up a coalition of female voters? Barack Obama had an official “Women For Obama” campaign initiative in 2012. I guess things have become so politically correct now that such things can’t be done anymore? After checking a few different 2020 Democrat campaign sites, the use of coalitions such as “Women for…” “Latinos for…” “Coal Workers for…” “African Americans for…” “Unions for…” etc., that used to be common for campaigns are curiously absent. Though every campaign I checked does have its own “Pride” collection of apparel.
In today’s politically correct climate, targeting women for being women might offend people who identify as women… or something. Or perhaps Facebook is just coming up with any excuse it can to prevent Trump from running ads.
You tell me.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis