Social Media ETFs Finish Higher Despite Facebook Controversy

In what has become an increasingly volatile civil right environment, Facebook on Thursday stated that it took down advertisements from President Trump’s campaign that included a symbol associated with Nazis. The move seemed to have little effect on social media ETFs, however.

“We removed these posts and ads for violating our policy against organized hate,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. “Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol.”

The ads involved red downward-pointing triangles, which were a part of the Nazi system to denote political prisoners. The symbol was seen in advertisements by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the Trump campaign in general, and was concentrated primarily on male voters in Texas with the potential reach of over 1 million users, according to Facebook’s Ad Library.

Trump campaign officials argued that the symbol is sometimes used by Antifa, a loosely organized coalition of anti-fascists, as well, although it does not appear to be commonly used. Trump has anecdotally insisted that Antifa is at spearheading violence at protests over the police killing of George Floyd.

Social media companies have been in the spotlight for controversial stances on civil rights and free speech recently, including Twitter’s recent embroilment with President Trump.

Last month President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting social media companies just days after Twitter called two of his tweets “potentially misleading.”

Speaking from the Oval Office ahead of signing the order, Trump said the decision was to “defend free speech from one of the gravest dangers it has faced in American history.”
“A small handful of social media monopolies controls a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States,” he claimed. “They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter, virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences.”

ADL, an organization that fights anti-Semitism, also condemned the Trump ads in a statement.

“Whether aware of the history or meaning, for the Trump campaign to use a symbol – one which is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps — to attack his opponents is offensive and deeply troubling,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. “It is not difficult for one to criticize their political opponent without using Nazi-era imagery. We implore the Trump campaign to take greater caution and familiarize themselves with the historical context before doing so. Ignorance is not an excuse for appropriating hateful symbols.”

Facebook’s removal of the ad arrives after the company came under fire from its own employees and business partners for not deleting or moderating a post by Trump that said, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Facebook employees who protested the decision claimed that the post from Trump violates Facebook’s community standards, which prohibit language that incites serious violence. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg maintained that the company should not be “arbiters of truth.”

The Vanguard Telecommunication Services ETF (VOX) closed up 0.35% on the day, amid the news, the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) has rallied 0.45%. The Global X Social Media ETF (SOCL), which has a large allocation of TWTR is also finished 1.33% higher Thursday.

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