Facebook briefly removed and then restored four ads on Monday from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, which advocated for the breaking up big technology companies, for violating its terms of service.
On Monday, the social networking company confirmed that it had removed the ads, all of which featured a video with a thumbnail image incorporating Facebook’s logo. “We removed the ads because they violated our policies against use of our corporate logo,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “In the interest of allowing robust debate, we are restoring the ads.”
Facebook’s decision to take down the ads comes amid immense scrutiny of its power to distribute content and advertising across its vast platform. Last Friday, Warren, a Democratic hopeful for the 2020 presidential election, unveiled a plan to use antitrust enforcement to break up companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, arguing that they have too much power in the online media, advertising, and retail industries. Warren framed her platform as one that will restore and protect competition in the tech industry.
“Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy,” Warren wrote in her ad. “Facebook, Amazon, and Google. We all use them. But in their rise to power, they’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field in their favor. It’s time to break up these big companies so they don’t have so much power over everyone else.”
The text didn’t violate Facebook’s terms of service, according to a company spokesperson, but an accompanying video did by including an unauthorized use of Facebook’s corporate logo. The minute and a half clip, narrated by Warren, features graphics with all three companies’ logos and argues that they “run the internet.”
The ads, which debuted last Friday, went down sometime between then and Monday afternoon. Facebook’s ad archive shows that the four ads had less than $100 in backing each, with three garnering fewer than 1,000 impressions and one garnering between 1,000 and 5,000 impressions. Politico first spotted the ads’ removal.
Facebook’s advertising policies state that ads should not use the Facebook brand in a way that makes the company a prominent feature. They also mandate that “Facebook brand assets should not be modified in any way, such as by changing the design or color, or for the purpose of special effects or animation.”