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Facebook reportedly rejected Biden request to pull false Trump ad about Ukraine

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The world’s largest social network says it doesn’t want to referee political speech.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook is apparently sticking with its hands-off approach to political speech. The social network reportedly rejected a request from Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to pull an ad run last week by Donald Trump’s reelection campaign that attacked the former vice president and House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

In a letter to the Biden campaign on Monday, which was obtained by The New York Times and CNN, Facebook reiterated that it doesn’t send ads and other posts from politicians to fact -checkers. 

“Our approach is grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and the belief that, in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is,” wrote Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public policy director for global elections, in the letter. “Thus, when a politician speaks or makes an ad, we do not send it to third party fact checkers.”

Facebook last month said it exempts politicians from its third-party fact-checking process, a policy it said has been in place for more than a year. 

The 30-second ad, which was also reportedly run on Twitter and YouTube, said Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion if officials there fired the prosecutor investigating a company affiliated with Biden’s son. There’s no evidence to support the claim made in the ad about Biden and Ukraine, which has been debunked by fact-checking groups and media reports.  

The Trump and Biden campaigns didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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