Facebook may be one of the largest companies in the world, but that hasn't stopped a conservative group from pulling them up in front of the Federal Election Commission.
The American Principles Project wanted to boost this ad on the popular social media platform, targeting the Democratic Senate candidate in Michigan:
Ad voiceover: "All female athletes want is a fair shot at competition …. But what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl, but was born a boy? Senator Gary Peters and Joe Biden support legislation that would destroy girls' sports. They call it 'equality.' Really? That's not fair."
Facebook's fact-checkers dinged the ad (see below), saying the word "destroy" was too strong – so the platform throttled its distribution. Candidate Peters won his election by less than 100,000 votes out of more than five million cast.
Coincidence? APP's attorney Craig Parshall doesn't think so. "By our computation, some 300,000 registered voters in the state of Michigan did not see that ad. They were unable to view the facts in that ad," he emphasizes.
APP says Facebook's actions constitute an illegal $47,000 campaign contribution to the Peters campaign, and is hauling Facebook up before the Federal Elections Commission.
"We are accusing Facebook of improperly and illegally interfering with the election – specifically up in the pivotal battleground state of Michigan, and specifically in the contest over the seat for the United States Senate," the attorney explains.
The FEC has yet to respond to the complaint, which was filed in mid-November – and the worst the federal agency can do is administer a fine. But Parshall argues the case still deserves attention.
"Unfortunately, when you levy a fine of millions of dollars to these trillion-dollar enterprises, it's barely pocket change," he acknowledges. "What we really want to accomplish is [draw] public and political attention to the corruption of our free-election system."