December 15th, 2015

Facebook pulled 48 Trump election campaign ads which told people 'your vote has not been counted'

TrumpCarlos Barria/Reuters

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Facebook has removed 48 ads posted by the Trump campaign on the grounds that they violated voter interference policies, a company spokesperson told Business Insider. 

The ads consisted of video clips with accompanying text saying: "Your vote has not been counted. This is the fight for our future. President Trump needs you to take action, and vote. We need you to vote early."

Another version has the same text, but with the sentences in a different order. All include the phrase "your vote has not been counted."

Some of the videos were footage of President Donald Trump praising  Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's Supreme Court nominee, while others urged people to vote early.

Trump removed facebook advertDonald J. Trump/FacebookIt's unclear exactly what in the ads led to them being pulled. Facebook did not respond to a query about the specific reasoning behind the decision, beyond referring to a blog post about its voter interference policy.

The policy was is designed to protect "the integrity of the election by fighting foreign interference, misinformation and voter suppression."

Although Election Day is still to come on November 3, the statement "your vote has not been counted" had the potential to be misleading for a number of American voters when the ads ran, starting October 9. 

States vary as to when they allow ballots to be processed and counted, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

At least six states allow counting to begin prior to Election Day. In Florida, counting can begin up to 22 days before — at which point the Trump campaign ads would still have been live.

The ads were primarily seen in Michigan, which does not count votes early. They were also seen in Indiana, which also does not, and Ohio, which can at the discretion of local officials.

However, as a Facebook user's location doesn't necessarily match where they vote, it is possible that some of the ad's viewers' votes had indeed already been counted.

The US has seen a surge of early voting, doubling early turnout in some states compared to 2016, Business Insider's Sarah Al-Arshani reported.

A tally of Facebook's estimate across the ads showed that they had been seen by some 399,000 people before being taken down. Some had a potential reach of between 500,000 and 1 million people.

trump tweet mail in votingDonald Trump/Twitter

Trump has spent much of his campaign sowing mistrust in the electoral process, as Business Insider's John Haltiwanger has reported

He has repeatedly pushed misleading claims about postal voting, saying without evidence that it leads to widespread voter fraud. He has suggested delaying the election date — which is not in his powers. And he has repeatedly refused to say if he would accept the result of the election if he loses. 

Facebook has said it will not accept any new political ads from October 23 — one week prior to the election. But many ads already booked are currently live, as its advertising library shows. The policy does not affect those ads.

Business Insider has contacted the Trump campaign for comment but did not immediately receive a reply. 

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