Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have refused to pull a Trump campaign ad claiming Joe Biden offered $1 billion in aid to Ukraine if the country removed a prosecutor investigating a company linked to Biden's son. CNN refused the grainy, 30-second ad released Sept. 27, citing false claims, reports the New York Times. Despite a plea from Biden's campaign, however, Facebook refused to take it down after 5 million views, citing "a fundamental belief in free expression." False or misleading statements are part of political speech, which "is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is," said Facebook’s head of global elections policy, Katie Harbath. As the Times sees it, Facebook seems determined to avoid moderation despite the disinformation spread on the site in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.
It's "unacceptable" since allowing "objectively false information to influence public opinion poisons the public discourse and chips away at our democracy," a Biden spokesperson says, per CNN. Biden's campaign previously argued the ad presented "debunked conspiracy theories," including that Biden pushed for the prosecutor's ouster to benefit his son, Hunter. In reality, the effort backed by the European Union, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank came amid claims that Viktor Shokin ignored corruption, Biden's team said. In a sign of support, Biden's Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, now claims Facebook is "taking deliberate steps to help one candidate" after Trump met with CEO Mark Zuckerberg two weeks ago, per Vox. YouTube and Twitter are also airing the ad, saying it complies with company policy, as is Fox News. (Read more Facebook stories.)