Facebook has removed more than 80 ads placed by the Trump campaign for use of imagery linked to Nazism. The ads used the imagery of an inverted triangle, which the Trump campaign has argued is a “symbol widely used by antifa.” The same symbol was used to identify political prisoners in Nazi death camps, leading Media Matters to call it an “infamous Nazi symbol” with no place in political rhetoric.
Facebook agreed, ultimately removing the ads because of the Nazi-linked imagery. “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” said Facebook’s Andy Stone in a statement.
Spread across official pages for President Trump, Vice President Pence, and campaign manager Brad Parscale, among others, the ads warned of “dangerous MOBS of far-left groups” causing “absolute mayhem” across America.
The extreme language is an extension of Trump’s weeks-long campaign against antifa, which has coincided with a spate of bizarre hoaxes claiming that violent agitators were bussing into rural areas to wreak havoc. While nationwide protests have incurred significant property damage, there has been little evidence of coordinated antifa involvement, although a number of far-right extremists have been arrested for killings or planned attacks during the same period.
The inverted red triangle has sometimes been adopted by anti-fascist groups, most notably by the UK’s Anti-Fascist Action group in the 1980s, in what historian Mark Bray referred to as a “reclamation … of the symbol used by the Nazis to label communists.” But among US anti-fascists, the symbol has been largely displaced by the dual-flag symbol and is rarely seen among contemporary groups.
As a result, many observers saw the Trump ads as a direct reference to the symbols used by Nazis to identify imprisoned political dissidents. In a statement to The Washington Post, Anti-Defamation League president Jonathan Greenblatt called the ads “offensive and deeply troubling.”
The move comes just weeks after Twitter removed one of the president’s posts for glorifying violence — invoking the infamous slogan, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Trump issued an executive order targeting perceived bias in social media in the wake of the incident, although the dictates in the order do not have the force of law and are unlikely to affect the current situation with Facebook.