The ads in question all prominently featured an inverted red triangle — the same triangle Nazis used to identify political prisoners in concentration camps.
Pages belonging to Donald Trump, Team Trump and Mike Pence ran a collective total 88 of the ads for between 1.3 and 1.7 million impressions before they were pulled Thursday.
Text accompanying the ads warns of “dangerous MOBS of far-left groups” and implores readers to sign a petition indicating their opposition to Antifa. Trump has repeatedly sought to tie violent acts at nationwide protests to anti-fascist groups; however, a Reuters analysis indicates that, so far, right-wing extremists have been predominantly responsible.
“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate,” a Facebook spokesperson told HuffPost. “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”
The Trump campaign responded by portraying the symbol as both an innocent emoji and one “widely used” by Antifa. A reverse image search of the symbol, however, returns no results other than those used recently by the Trump campaign.
The anti-fascist movement more typically uses an emblem featuring two flags on top of each other, one black, one red.
Seeking to bolster its claim, the Trump campaign then pointed NBC to a website that sells custom T-shirts available with the logo. The account selling the shirts appears relatively new and claims to be located in Spain.
As if there were any doubt, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum confirmed on Twitter that the red triangle was indeed used by the Nazis to flag “political prisoners.”
The progressive watchdog group Media Matters was among the first to notice the ads on Facebook. The organization’s president, Angelo Carusone, said he welcomes Facebook’s action, but the question remains: Why did Facebook ever allow them to begin with?
“Despite violating Facebook’s terms of service, the ads were approved by Facebook in the first place,” Carusone said in a statement. “Yet again we see another example where Facebook can’t even meet the bare minimum standards they set for themselves — either because they’re incapable or because they’re in cahoots.
“Either way, the pattern is alarming.”