Facebook removed an ad by Adriel Hampton showing Sen. Lindsey Graham backing the Green New Deal, so now he’s running for governor of California to advertise lies until Facebook cleans up its act.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: You announced recently that the official policy of Facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation. Do you see a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact checking on political advertisements?
MARK ZUCKERBERG: Well, Congresswoman, I think lying is bad and I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie, that would be bad.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you won’t take down lies or you will take down lies? I think it’s just a pretty simple yes or no.
MARK ZUCKERBERG: In a democracy, I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote for are saying.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you won’t take them down.
MARC STEINER: I don’t want to be on her bad side. That was of course, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pushing Mark Zuckerberg over the false advertising that Facebook allows with no fact checking by right-wing candidates.
So let’s start there. And hello and welcome to The Real News. I’m Marc Steiner. Good to have you with us. What did he say? I think he’s the new king of doublespeak. Facebook cut a news deal with the Breitbart. Breitbart, remember them? The news liars from the right and now employees there are revolting at Facebook because Zuck, as he’s called by some, allows politicians to post ads that are clearly lies and from folks are taking full advantage of that. So when AOC asked if she could run an ad full of lies it inspired someone to post this ad on Facebook.
RONALD REAGAN: When Teddy Roosevelt became president, our land, forests and wildlife had been exploited for more than 100. But the consequences of these lost resources had not yet dawned in the public conscience. President Teddy Roosevelt fired the imagination of the American people, shook our nation from its lethargy and began to rescue the public domain.
RICHARD NIXON: Clean air and clean water, a wise is use of our land with the protection of wildlife and natural beauty. These are part of the birthright of every American. To guarantee that birthright, we must act and act decisively. It is literally now or never.
FRED RICH: It breaks my heart to see that the conservative movement in America has really abandoned a century of tradition, of support for conservation and environment.
LINDSEY GRAHAM: I’m Senator Graham from South Carolina. I’m here to announce with my colleagues that we care about conservation. We care about the environment. From a Republican point of view, I think we need to look at the science. Admit that climate change is real. Simply put, we believe in the Green New Deal.
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: This should not be a partisan issue.
LINDSEY GRAHAM: I’m not a scientist. I have the grades to prove it, but I have really taken this issue to heart.
MARC STEINER: So who knew? I mean this is a whole different Graham than anyone’s ever seen before. I kind of liked this Graham, might changing my whole idea of what to do. I don’t know. Let’s welcome the man who did this ad that was taken down by Facebook. He’s now running for governor of California. Adriel Hampton, welcome to The Real News. Good to have you with us.
ADRIEL HAMPTON: Hey, thank you Marc. It’s good to be here.
MARC STEINER: So why’d you tell those lies?
ADRIEL HAMPTON: Well, during the hearing where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioned Mark Zuckerberg, she laid out the scenario for an ad just like that one. And the interesting thing is what happens when you really do it, right? So we have a political action committee called The Really Online Lefty League. And Wednesday night after seeing that testimony, I got a flash of insight and I thought we need to make that ad and see what happens if we put it up on Facebook. So I contacted a friend who works with me, Mike Ramsey, who is the founder of something called the Institute for Progressive Memetics and he’s a very talented designer and obviously video editor. And we discussed the idea. I had thought about doing an image first. He said, it’s got to be a video. He cut that video for The Really Online Lefty League.
And the next day, Thursday, we put it up and I thought after this hearing and Ocasio-Cortez said, “Could I run an ad saying that my, the GOP candidates in the primaries support the Green New Deal?” And I thought Zuck would have sent a missive around to make sure that that ad didn’t get approved, but it did get approved. Facebook has a review process and then they, if they get complaints or media contact them, then they react. And that ad ran for about a day, very little spent. The goal was never to intentionally deceive, it was to test the policies that are allowing a president whose campaign manager has run millions of Facebook ads, he claims to have, and he also is planning to spend $1 billion on Trump’s re-elect. That’s on Facebook, that’s enough money, even a 10th of that is enough to sway an election in my opinion, depending on what other candidates are doing. But it’s that exemption for falsehood is very big.
Then Facebook took down our ad, saying that it is a political action committee, not a politician. So then Mike Gravel, the former candidate for president, put it up on his page. They took it down again this time saying it had been debunked on our page, so it couldn’t be run subsequently on someone else’s page. And then Facebook fact-checkers also indicated to me that they might rule that Mike is a former politician, even though he’s actively doing interviews and he’s promoting his book and he’s clearly a politician, but he’s not in elected office or actively seeking elected office. So Monday morning I went and I filed to run for governor of California because I figured if you can launch a run for governor by attacking Trump, Mark Zuckerberg and the biggest recipient of PG&E, largess in California politics, that’s a pretty good way to kick it off.
MARC STEINER: And you did. So of course in California, it doesn’t cost anything to run for office, right?
ADRIEL HAMPTON: It doesn’t. Not when you declare. You have to pay a fee that’s not in consequential, much closer to the actual election in 2022. So yeah. Yeah. Just about anyone could go and file for office right now in California. You basically, you can’t be a felon and you have to sign your name on it. It’s a one page form. But I think in this case, the interesting thing is we have the technical acuity to keep doing these kinds of ads. And we now have myself, Mike Gravel and one other federal candidate who are all… all of us will run these fake ads if we have to, to beat up at the system until we get politicians and right wingers treated the same as everyone else. And I swear, Marc, if they don’t change, it wouldn’t take me very much money to defeat them. And I can explain why.
MARC STEINER: So I mean, so you’re running for California, basically, so you can undermine Facebook and tell a lot of lies about the other side.
ADRIEL HAMPTON: I’m running for California governor because this issue… Ocasio-Cortez is doing a great job, it looks like, at the federal level, but she’s not in House leadership. And you need someone like a governor or a chair of a powerful committee in California or in Congress to hold real hearings on this. We can hold hearings for months figuring out how in a democracy you police this kind of false speech, disinformation, the audience targeting that Facebook allows that is really more powerful than anything ever invented. And that’s the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal, right? And I’m very familiar with psychometric targeting. I have not run millions of Facebook ads, but I have run tens of thousands.
MARC STEINER: So, speaking of Zuckerberg, I’m going to come back to this Cambridge Analytica thing and what happened with AOC, but this is Zuckerberg talking at Georgetown, I believe in Washington DC just a little bit ago.
MARK ZUCKERBERG: In times of social tension, our impulse is often to pull back on free expression because we want the progress that comes from free expression, but we don’t want the tension. Pulling back on free expression wasn’t the answer. And in fact, it often ends up hurting the minority views that we seek to protect. We can either continue to stand for free expression, understanding its messiness, but believing that the long journey towards greater progress requires confronting ideas that challenge us. Or we can decide that the cost is simply too great, yet still a strict first amendment standard might require us to allow things like terrorist propaganda or bullying people that almost everyone agrees that we should stop, and I certainly do. So once we’re taking this content down, the question is, where do you draw the line?
MARC STEINER: Where do you draw the line? And he made it very clear when he was being questioned by Ocasio-Cortez. He sounded like a 12 year old: “I don’t lie, I don’t like lies.” So what do you make of Mr. Zuckerberg in this?
ADRIEL HAMPTON: Well, I heard the word free a lot of times from a man who runs a $531 billion advertising platform. So I find it to be incredibly disingenuous and in fact dishonest. And Mark Zuckerberg himself is dealing in gross misinformation. And before we came on air, and I think in some of the slides here, I saw references to Popular Information which is a newsletter that regularly talks about how Facebook is not enforcing its policies against Trump. And Facebook, I believe, explicitly clarified its policies to make sure that it was clear that it was okay for Trump to lie. They also use Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller as a fact-checking organization. I believe they created a foundation to be a fact checker.
Now, I’ve just refused my first Fox on air interview and will continue to do so. Because these are the companies, Fox, Daily Caller, Daily Wire, Breitbart, that are really a part of the problem of gross right-wing propaganda. It’s also interesting, you don’t see The Real News being asked to provide a fact checking crew. You don’t see Occupy Democrats being asked to be a news source inside. They have I think a publication called The Washington Times, that’s not highly regarded for truthfulness, but neither was Daily Caller. And then Daily Wire has 14 Facebook pages coordinating to boost its content on a daily basis, making it more popular on Facebook than CNN and New York Times on many days.
MARC STEINER: So tell me. There’s this is tweet that AOC put out about Cambridge Analytica and I just looked, for our viewers to take a look at this a minute. I mean, here’s what we know that Zuckerberg doesn’t know when Facebook discovered, he discovered that Cambridge Analytica scandal, that’s hard to believe. And so Zuck privately met with Trump and the far right. He’s now allowing pages for disinformation ads. He didn’t tell the whole truth about his fact-checkers. So that’s what you were alluding to. And, so what do you think is afoot here? When you have that and you had the News Wire and Ben Shapiro having 14, 16, 17 or the number of Facebook pages spewing out lies. He cut a deal with Breitbart, the right wing news media. I mean, is it all about money?
ADRIEL HAMPTON: Yeah. I want to smile, but I have to grimace through all of that. I think it’s about money and I think it’s about power, right? You consider, I gave a scenario of some both independent and very left organizations that could correlate to some of the organizations that are in power now with Facebook. And I guess the issue that we’re hammering on is that right now it appears that Facebook is either has a pure profit motive or it has the motive of kissing up to the administration, right? If you know that Trump is going to be really pissed off if you start censoring his content or if you start messing with the Daily Wire, then Facebook, they might do this stuff just to stay in Trump’s good graces. And we’ve also seen that Mark Zuckerberg does not want Elizabeth Warren to be president because she’s openly called for the breakup of Facebook. So we have the CEO of a company manipulating an election here. And I’m challenging their standing to be the arbiter of truth on their platform. Who gave Mark Zuckerberg the right to decide what the first amendment means.
MARC STEINER: I mean, that’s the danger-
ADRIEL HAMPTON: He’s not a judge. He’s not a politician. He’s not democratically elected.
MARC STEINER: No. And that’s the danger in part of this is when the public commons is privately owned, it changes the nature of our democracy and could. I mean AOC put this other tweet up and when she… the end of this tweet I think is she’s really pushing hard here when she writes at the end they are making active and aggressive decisions that imperil our elections. And I think that’s very real. And I think that’s the point that we’re just beginning to uncover. I mean, I’m not sure where this goes. Let me conclude with this last tweet here up from Carole Cadwalladr, who is in The Observer. And I thought what she said here was really something: “It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup…always, always, always. This weekend was he brought this fire out. And here’s why I think there’s trouble ahead for Zuck. This isn’t the end of the Cambridge Analytical scandal, it’s the beginning.” I mean, so talk a bit about where you think this going to unfold and what this means for you and what you’re about to do.
ADRIEL HAMPTON: Yeah. I think that we need democratic regulation of these companies. They should not be allowed to regulate themselves. If it’s a free speech issue from the first amendment, that’s the government, not Facebook, that gets to decide how that’s interpreted, right? We do, those of us on the progressive side of the spectrum, it’s challenging that we have more conservative Supreme Court than I would like to see these things. But Congress can act and also Sacramento can act and that’s the importance of me running for governor. We will continue to challenge these policies. Have I given you… there’s a Mitch McConnell’s scenario; do you want to hear it?
MARC STEINER: Yes, please.
ADRIEL HAMPTON: So Mitchell McConnell right now is blocking action on any bills, right? He’s kind of saying I’m the Grim Reaper of the Senate. Well, Mitch McConnell, how about we run a parody, a parody ad and we’ll run it and it won’t say that we want to elect or defeat you and it won’t be an electioneering ad, but it will talk about how you secretly want to be president and you were secretly planning to stab Trump in the back in the impeachment hearings. And we will run that ad in Kentucky and we’ll run it to, and these are real categories inside Facebook’s ad targeting, and we’ll run it too likely to engage with political content, (conservative) and people with a high school education.
MARC STEINER: I’ll tell you what, we’ll continue our conversations down the road for the next year. If you have you put something up, we’ll try to do it and we’ll put it out there on our sites as well and continue this conversation. And I’m glad_
ADRIEL HAMPTON: Thanks.
MARC STEINER: It’s good to see a man who’s not afraid to fight and have a sense of humor and keep pushing this so.
ADRIEL HAMPTON: Thank you, Marc. Appreciate it.
MARC STEINER: Adriel Hampton, thanks so much for joining us today. It’s been great.
ADRIEL HAMPTON: Absolutely.
MARC STEINER: Keep on telling them. And thank you all for watching The Real News. I’m Marc Steiner. Good to have you with us. Let us know what you think. Take care.
DHARNA NOOR: Hey, y’all. My name is Dharna Noor and I’m a climate crisis reporter here at The Real News Network. This is a crucial moment for humanity and for the planet. So if you like what we do, please, please support us by subscribing at the link below. Thank you.