Facebook on Thursday removed ads by President Donald Trump's re-election campaign that contained a symbol used in Nazi Germany for political prisoners.
Facebook, a leading social network, which has drawn fire over its hands-off approach to political speech in recent months, said in a statement the campaign messages violated a policy against "organised hate" and were taken down as a result.
"We don't allow symbols that represent hateful organisations or hateful ideologies unless they are put up with context or condemnation," Facebook head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher said at a House of Representatives committee hearing.
"That's what we saw in this case with this ad, and anywhere that that symbol is used we would take the same actions."
Facebook's move against the ads targeted when they contended are dangerous far-left groups comes amid heated debate between social platforms and political leaders on what content may be allowed or banned.
In a tweet from a "Trump War Room," the campaign contended the upside-down red triangle symbol at issue was "widely used" in reference to left-wing activist group Antifa.
Watchdog group Media Matters replied with a tweet saying that is certainly not the case.
Facebook let the Trump campaign run 88 ads with inverted red triangle — an infamous Nazi symbol… https://t.co/5IM5sS4tfc— Media Matters (@Media Matters) 1592495393.0
Watchdog group slams Facebook
Since early this month, the Trump campaign has been running "fearmongering" ads about what it says is a far-left group called "antifa," according to Media Matters.
The upside-down red triangle was apparently a new addition to the ad.
"Despite violating Facebook's terms of service, the ads were approved by Facebook in the first place," said Media Matters president Angelo Carusone.
Facebook has steadfastly rejected calls to fact-check politicians including a plea from Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden to clamp down on what he called rampant disinformation from the White House.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said the platform will steer away from moderating political speech but would enforce its rules barring content promoting harm.
US House panel grills Facebook, Twitter, Google officials
The revelation came as top officials from Facebook, Google and Twitter were grilled by US lawmakers on Thursday at a virtual hearing on foreign influence and election security ahead of the November 3 US presidential contest.
Leaders from Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc. told the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee that they had not seen evidence of coordinated foreign interference in conversations about absentee voting or about recent protests on anti-racism and policing.
However, Twitter's director of global public policy strategy and development Nick Pickles said the company had seen a shift from platform manipulation to public tweets from state media and government accounts.
Democratic Representative Jim Himes pressed Facebook's head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher on what the company was doing to deal with worries that its algorithm promotes polarisation and anger.
"If every single American household is full of toxic, explosive gas, as I think it is today, all it takes is a match from Russia or from Iran or from North Korea or from China to set off a conflagration," said Himes.
Gleicher said Facebook's users did not want to see divisive content and the platform had refocused to emphasise content from friends and family.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)