Facebook is refusing to remove an attack ad falsely linking Rep. Ilhan Omar to Hamas

Facebook is refusing to remove an attack ad falsely linking Rep. Ilhan Omar to Hamas
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Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Rep. Ilhan Omar. JIM BOURG/Reuters
  • The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC ran an ad falsely linking US Rep. Ilhan Omar to Hamas.

  • Facebook said it didn't violate company policies after Omar's office warned about it.

  • Facebook has long been slammed for not doing more to clamp down on misinformation and hate speech.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Facebook refused to remove an attack ad falsely linking Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar to Hamas, even after her aides said similar claims had resulted in death threats to the lawmaker in the past.

The ad was produced by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobbying group, and showed the face of the Minnesota lawmaker, who is Muslim, superimposed onto rockets fired by Gaza militants toward Israel.

"When Israel targets Hamas, Rep. Omar calls it an act of terrorism," the caption said. The ad is still live on Facebook.

The ad seemed to be based on a tweet by Omar that said Israel's killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza constituted an act of terrorism. Israel has said it takes precautions to narrowly target Hamas and other militant targets in Gaza, but many civilians have been reported killed there by Israeli airstrikes, including dozens of children.

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The AIPAC ad went up during the deadly air attacks between the Israel Defense Forces and Gaza militants in the past two weeks. Israel and Hamas on Thursday agreed to a cease-fire.

Omar's office told The Washington Post that it had contacted Facebook to request the removal of the ad, saying it was inaccurate and could lead to death threats against Omar.

Facebook told Omar's office, and later confirmed to The Post, that it would not remove the ad because it did not violate its policies.

Insider has contacted Facebook and Omar's office for comment.

The refusal of Facebook to remove the ad is likely to fuel more criticism of the platform for failing to do more to remove hate speech and misinformation.

Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal and David Cicilline last August urged the platform to do more to remove election misinformation and stop far-right militias from using it to organize and propagandize.

Omar has long been the focus of right-wing smear campaigns. In 2019, President Donald Trump posted a video on Facebook attacking Omar, using an out-of-context quote to make it appear as if she backed the 9/11 attacks, leading to calls for the president to be barred from the platform.

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