Facebook removes dozens of Trump ads that falsely blamed refugees for spread of COVID-19

mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com (Mary Meisenzahl)
·2 min read
Trump debate.JPG
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the first 2020 presidential campaign debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020.
  • Facebook has removed ads from the Trump campaign that claimed refugees were responsible for the spread of COVID-19, NBC News reported.

  • The campaign ran several variations of the ad in swing states before they were removed. 

  • "We don't allow claims that people's physical safety, health, or survival is threatened by people on the basis of their national origin or immigration status," a Facebook spokesperson told NBC. 

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Facebook removed Trump campaign ads that claimed refugees were responsible for spreading COVID-19, Jo Ling Kent and David Ingram at NBC News reported.

One of the ads, found by Business Insider in Facebook's ad library, said "Joe Biden wants to INCREASE refugees from Syria and Somalia by 700% PERCENT. Biden said as President he would make sure to IMMEDIATELY SURGE the border with all those who are seeking asylum." The ad also included a video of Joe Biden speaking, along with flags of Syria, Somalia, and Yemen, labeled as "terror hotspots" and text about the "health risks" involved. It did not include any sources.

According to Facebook's ad library, that particular ad reached between 500,000 and one million people in North Carolina, with between 60,000 and 70,000 impressions. It began running on Sep. 28 until it was removed Sep. 29. The campaign spent between $900 and $999 on it.

"We rejected these ads because we don't allow claims that people's physical safety, health, or survival is threatened by people on the basis of their national origin or immigration status," Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement to NBC.

trump fb ads covid
Facebook Ad Library.

The campaign ran at least 10 variations of this post in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and a few other states, and NBC reported there were 38 total variations. In all, at least between $15 and $20,000 was spent on the ads, according to Facebook's ad library. Facebook estimates more than 1 million impressions, though with the caveat that some of them could be recording the same viewer multiple times.

Facebook and the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment.

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