For the right price, Facebook and Google will reportedly help promote ads that go against their public values.
Facebook and Google have both publicly supported refugees. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg promised in 2015 to bring internet access to refugee camps, and the search engine giant donated more than $20 million in grants for the refugee crisis.
But the companies’ ad support staff may been weaving a different story. Ad teams for both Facebook and Google worked closely with Harris Media, an ad agency, to develop an anti-refugee campaign during the US presidential election, reported Bloomberg on Wednesday. The ads were targeted in swing states like Nevada and North Carolina in the hopes of influencing voters, said Bloomberg.
Tech companies have launched into the midst of political scorn, as politicians and trolls learn to take advantage of social media’s widespread influence as well as figure out ways to bend the rules online.
Facebook and Google are faced with criticism for helping spread fake news, even as it develops tools to fight them. This widespread ad campaign is yet another example of a loophole that Google and Facebook tries to close.
The ads, which were designed to instill fear of immigrants and refugees, were lead by Secure America Now, a conservative advocacy group. The group paid millions for ads from Facebook and Google, according to the report. Secure America Now did not respond to a request for comment.
One of the ads showed a video where tourist spots around France like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre were overtaken by ISIS because of refugees. They had been seen millions of times. Google didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Facebook also allegedly tested out a new video format with Secure America Now’s fear-mongering ads. A source familiar with the ad campaign collaboration said Harris Media wanted to test the new video format, not Facebook. The social network worked directly with the ad agency, not the advocacy group.
Facebook has faced criticism for getting involved with political ads, with President Trump’s digital director Brad Parscale boasting that he had “embeds” within the social network.
“Facebook provides best practice advice and information about our products to organizations across the political spectrum,” a Facebook spokesman said.
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