A former Georgia congressman running to reclaim his old spot has been running campaign ads calling guns “liberty machines” to protect from “looting hordes from Atlanta” — and Facebook let him do it.
Former Rep. Paul Broun, a four-term congressman who retired in 2015 after a failed bid for U.S. Senate, is running in Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, a safe GOP seat located in the northern part of the state. Broun posted a campaign video in early April announcing an AR-15 giveaway, in which he references the need for “liberty machines” to protect from “looting hordes from Atlanta” and a “tyrannical government.”
Broun began running a similar sponsored ad on Facebook on May 29, according to Popular Information, which again features Broun saying: “Whether its looting hoards from Atlanta, or a tyrannical government in Washington, there are few better Liberty Machines than an AR-15.”
After the site emailed Facebook to inquire about the ad, Facebook removed it.
"We removed this ad, which advocates the use of deadly weapons against a clearly defined group of people, for violating our policies against inciting violence," Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told the site.
By then, however, the Facebook ad had been viewed more than 50,000 times, Popular Information reported. Broun’s campaign spent between $200 and $299 on the ad, according to Facebook’s ad library.
The Broun incident comes at a time of political turmoil at Facebook. Hundreds of the site’s employees staged a virtual walkout earlier this week in a protest against leaving Trump’s “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” post threatening protesters up and unmodified. The president’s post on Twitter had been labeled by Twitter with a warning for glorifying violence.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the company’s move in an internal meeting earlier this week, according to a leaked transcript obtained and published by Recode. The statement, which was first uttered by racist Miami police chief Walter Headley in 1967, “has no history of being read as a dog whistle for vigilante supporters to take justice into their own hands,” according to Zuckerberg.
Several employees have resigned from the company over the platform’s kid-gloves treatment toward Trump. “It's crystal-clear today that leadership refuses to stand with us,” front-end engineer Brandon Dail tweeted during the meeting.
Cover: Screen shot from Paul Broun's Facebook ad