Facebook Removes Conservative Group’s Anti-Stimulus Petition

February 11, 2009 - 8:51 PM
The Internet's top social networking site has kicked out a conservative group's Web site --"NoStimulus.com" -- from its paid advertising space.

(AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Facebook, one of the Internet’s top social networking sites, has kicked out a conservative group’s Web site --“NoStimulus.com” -- from its paid advertising space.
 
NoStimulus.com, which is promoting a petition to stop President Obama’s economic stimulus bill, is sponsored by the nonprofit conservative group Americans for Prosperity.
 
Phil Kerpen, national policy director for Americans for Prosperity, said the paid ad had been running for days on Facebook with no problem.
 
“They had already screened it and approved it,” says Kerpen.
 
The petition featured in NoStimulus.com allows for those who oppose the stimulus bill to voice their objections, which are then sent to their respective lawmakers.
 
“Congress should not enact an expensive spending bill under the pretense of stimulus or recovery,” reads the petition. “We cannot spend our way to prosperity, and such an expansion of the federal government will put a crushing burden on taxpayers in the long-term.”
 
Once the NoStimulus.com Web site started getting a large volume of visitors, Kerpen told CNSNews.com, “they put a disapproval notice on it and they pulled the ad."
 
Kerpen said Facebook told Americans for Prosperity that the ad violated two of its advertising rules – Rules 8 and 9.
 
Rule 8 says that ads may not “contain, facilitate or promote “adult” content or content that is “offensive, profane, vulgar, obscene or inappropriate” or “defamatory, libelous, slanderous and/or unlawful.”
 
Rule 9 prohibits a variety of content, including:
--“Inflammatory religious content”;
-- “Politically religious agendas and/or any known associations with hate, criminal and/or terrorist activities”;
-- “Political content that exploits political agendas or uses ‘hot button’ political issues for commercial use regardless of whether the advertiser has a political agenda”;
--“Hate speech, whether directed at an individual or a group, and whether based upon the race, sex, creed, national origin, religious affiliation, marital status, sexual orientation or language of such individual or group”;
-- and “Content that advocates against any organization, person, or group of people, with the exception of candidates running for public office.”
 
But Facebook, which confirmed that it took “NoStimulus.com” down, told CNSNews.com that it did so because of user complaints--and did not mention any violations of Rules 8 or 9.
 
“At Facebook, we strive to create a trusted environment for our users and advertisers,” Facebook spokeswoman Erin Zietler said in an e-mail. “We encourage users to report any advertisements they find offensive or misleading, and we offer the ability for them to provide immediate feedback on our ads. We have a team dedicated to investigating ads and user complaints.
 
“In this case, users informed us about misleading offers in many ads with promotions related to the U.S. economic stimulus package,” the spokeswoman said. “We are in the process of removing ads with these types of misleading offers as they are brought to our attention.”
 
Kerpen, meanwhile, said that Facebook’s decision to bring down the ad bordered on censorship and was “completely inappropriate, because we are not commercial; we are a non-profit organization,” he said.