Facebook and Google have removed ads by the UK Conservative Party that reportedly edited statements from BBC newsreaders to make them look and sound like they were supporting the party when they weren’t, but that’s not why they were taken down.
Facebook and Google have removed ads by the UK Conservative Party that reportedly edited statements from BBC newsreaders to make them look and sound like they were supporting the party when they weren’t, but that’s not why they were taken down.

‘Completely unacceptable’ ads banned

Facebook and Google have removed ads by the UK Conservative Party that reportedly edited statements from BBC newsreaders to make them look and sound like they were supporting the party when they weren't, but that's not why they were taken down.

The ads featured BBC News footage of journalists Huw Edwards and Laura Kuenssberg.

In one, Ms Kuenssberg is edited so her repetition of a quote from Conservative Party leader and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about a "pointless delay to Brexit" comes across as her own words.

The two advertisements, which the broadcaster called "completely unacceptable", have been removed from Facebook and Google-owned YouTube, but only because the BBC issued a copyright claim.

Ms Kuenssberg welcomed the removal on Twitter saying it was "quite right" for the ads to be taken down.

Mr Edwards also praised the news and called the ads a "stunt", but didn't expand as his thoughts were "unprintable".

The ads were seen more than 1.3 million times across both platforms according to The independent, including more than one million times on YouTube, where the party reportedly spent almost $50,000 promoting them.

 

Google did not outwardly say why it took the ads off YouTube, but Facebook confirmed it was due to a copyright claim by the BBC and not because the ads were spreading misinformation.

"We have removed this content following a valid intellectual property claim from the rights holder, the BBC," Facebook said, according to The Independent.

"Whenever we receive valid IP claims against content on the platform, in advertising or elsewhere, we act in accordance with our policies and take action as required."

Facebook's founding CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently been vocal on his reluctance to delete or even fact check political ads, despite mounting evidence that the use of targeted advertisements, which don't need to contain any truth, have hugely impacted on elections around the world.

The UK election next week will likely see either Boris Johnson returned as PM … Picture: Adrian Dennis/Getty Images
The UK election next week will likely see either Boris Johnson returned as PM … Picture: Adrian Dennis/Getty Images

"Whenever we receive valid IP claims against content on the platform, in advertising or elsewhere, we act in accordance with our policies and take action as required."

Misleading advertising and fake news have previously been criticised for influencing the Brexit vote.

Mr Zuckerberg's stance is that the ads should remain up so that users can see what candidates are saying and decide on whether it's accurate themselves.

The Facebook boss is of the opinion that being caught out lying will be sufficiently damaging to the politicians and causes that deliberately spread misinformation because, as he bravely testified to dozens of U.S. congresspeople earlier this year, "lying is bad".

Mr Zuckerberg's stance has garnered much criticism, including among his own employees.

Hundreds of Facebook workers wrote to their boss to express their concerns about the policies.

Britons will head to the polls next Thursday.

Do you think the ads should have been removed sooner? Let us know in the comments below.

Or Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn moving into 10 Downing Street. Picture: Darren Staples/Getty Images
Or Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn moving into 10 Downing Street. Picture: Darren Staples/Getty Images


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