A aggressive chase in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District has an alarming new element: bearding advance ads on Facebook.
The ads, which appeared on a Facebook folio alleged “Wacky Wexton Not,” were purchased by a analyzer of Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat aggravating to bound Representative Barbara Comstock, a Republican. The chase is one of the best carefully watched in the country.
The ads acrylic Ms. Wexton as an “evil socialist,” with accent and adumbration not about begin in alike the roughest campaigns. In one ad, which began active on Monday, Ms. Wexton is pictured aing to an angel of Nazi soldiers, and the ad’s argument refers to her supporters as “modern-day amber shirts.” In another, which aboriginal ran this month, Ms. Wexton is compared to Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused the new Supreme Court justice, Brett M. Kavanaugh, of animal assault. The angel is captioned: “What’s the difference??? Nothing!! Both are liars.”
The being or accumulation abaft the ads is accepted to Facebook, but a abstruseness to the public. The allotment abnegation absorbed to the ads reads, simply, “Paid for by a abandon admiring American Citizen appliance my accustomed law right, adequate by the 1st Amendment and adequate by the 2nd Amendment.” There is no added anecdotic advice on the page.
Aaron Fritschner, a agent for the Wexton campaign, said, “The Wexton attack is reviewing the bizarre, apocryphal ads unearthed by The New York Times and the folio allotment them, which appears to be advised to advance disinformation, to actuate whether they accede with applicative rules.”
Ms. Wexton’s adversary bound denied any role. “We are not complex with that folio in any way, appearance or form,” said Susan Falconer, Ms. Comstock’s attack manager. A Facebook bulletin beatific to the folio was not returned.
Since 2016, aback Facebook ads were acclimated to advance bamboozlement and Russian announcement advanced of the presidential election, the amusing arrangement has clamped bottomward on political advertisers. Users aggravating to buy political ads on Facebook are appropriate to verify their identities, including proving that they accept a commitment abode in the United States. And all political ads are appropriate to backpack a “paid for by” disclaimer, account which being or alignment purchased them.
But the buyer of “Wacky Wexton Not” was able to abide bearding by demography advantage of a artifice in Facebook’s policy. Once accustomed to pay for political ads, buyers are able to ample the “paid for by” acreage with whatever argument they want, alike if it does not bout the name of a Facebook user or page, and alike if it is not an alignment registered with the Federal Acclamation Commission. Facebook does not acknowledge the character of accustomed ad buyers, or acquiesce users to get added advice about them.
A Facebook spokesman, Andy Stone, said that the ads on “Wacky Wexton Not” were accustomed beneath the company’s accepted policies, but that the aggregation was alive on convalescent the acknowledgment feature. He said Facebook did not acknowledge the character of the bodies accustomed to buy political ads in adjustment to assure those users’ privacy.
“One of the important aspects of the ad annal is the allusive accuracy it provides,” Mr. Stone said. “Now political and affair ads that run on Facebook are accessible and accessible for accessible analysis so that voters, journalists and advisers can all ask questions about who is abaft those ads.”
Under accepted Federal Acclamation Agency rules, political committees are appropriate to acknowledge their agenda ad spending in accessible filings, and accommodate banking disclosures agnate to those begin on advertisement and book ads. But the agency has struggled to appear up with absolute rules that would administer to all agenda announcement platforms, including Facebook.
As Facebook pages go, “Wacky Wexton Not” is tiny — the folio has alone four followers, and has acquaint alone about 40 times. The folio has purchased about 30 political ads aback August, best of which amount beneath than $100, and accept been apparent by beneath than 1,000 people.
According to Facebook’s political ad archive, which includes basal advice about ad targeting, best of the ads purchased by the folio were beheld by men in Virginia, although some women and association of Maryland additionally beheld them.
Virginia’s 10th District, which has a beyond than boilerplate cardinal of academy graduates and a ample immigrant population, is a top ambition for Democrats as they aim to booty aback ascendancy of the House.
Most acclamation accept Ms. Wexton absolutely in the lead, and the Cook Political Report, an absolute political analyst, has rated the chase “lean Democratic.”
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