- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2021

Democratic lawmakers on Monday criticized Facebook’s advertising policy for being too permissive despite the Democratic Party’s congressional campaign committees labeling the social media company’s political ad ban as overly harsh last week.

Twenty-three Democrats led by Rep. Frank Pallone wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to challenge how the company’s advertising policies could have affected the rioters attacking the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee condemned Facebook’s ban on political ads and called for the blockade to be lifted. Facebook subsequently lifted the political ad blockade, which had been in place since November and affected ads about elections, politics and social issues.

Mr. Pallone, House Energy and Commerce Committee chair, wrote to Mr. Zuckerberg with his fellow Democrats to express concern about reports saying, “Facebook ran ads showing gun accessories and protective equipment next to content that amplified election misinformation.”

The Democrats noted that Facebook temporarily banned some ads promoting weapons and equipment through Jan. 22, but they criticized the company for not doing more.

“While it was encouraging that Facebook took action to ban certain types of troubling advertising on its platforms through January 22, more must be done since our nation continues to face a threat from violent domestic extremists,” the Democrats wrote to Facebook’s CEO. “In fact, there has been little indication how Facebook is now addressing the targeting and placement of these types of ads or how it plans to address the concerns of companies who see their ads placed next to violent content. Furthermore, additional clarity and transparency is needed around how these ads are selected for users and what influence they may have on users, particularly those who are known to be active in extremist groups that peddle disinformation and conspiracy theories.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Zuckerberg is set to testify before subcommittees within Mr. Pallone’s committee on March 25. 

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