Over the past couple of weeks, Facebook and Instagram alike have been flooded with undisclosed political based ads from the Chinese state media. The ads place blame upon President Donald Trump for the coronavirus. Today Facebook released a statement over the ads acknowledging that there was an “error” with the ads not being classified as political. Facebook said they are correcting the problem.

Yesterday the Telegraph reported on how far the Chinese state media has gone to place blame on President Trump for the Coronavirus. The report exposes three Chinese state media outlets (Xinhu, China Central Television, and the Global Times) that are responsible for spreading propaganda that is downplaying China’s role in the global outbreak of the coronavirus. The ads are focused on laying blame on President Trump and have received hundreds of millions of impressions across the world, targeting users that speak English, Chinese, and Arabic.

The articles they were pushing users to are portraying Trump as a racist while suggesting the origins of the virus is the United States. “[China] has taken stringent and forceful measures, and turned the tide on coronavirus,” one ad claimed. Another ad: “Trump’s disruption to China has severe consequences.” Every single ad that initially ran on both Instagram and Facebook did not have the mandatory political disclaimer tag associated with it. This enabled the Chinese media to hide who these ads were targeted to, as well as where the ads originated from. Many of the articles that were being promoted honed in on Trump labeling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” to describe the virus.

When the Telegraph contacted Facebook about these advertisements, the social media giant stated, “it was an error, the ads should have been classified as political. We have since corrected this issue.” A spokesperson for Facebook added that a lot of the advertisements that are running are being displayed in countries where Facebook does not require political disclosure, thus making it extremely difficult to gauge the magnitude of how much propaganda was spread without being recognized.

The spokesperson for Facebook added that it had made the decision to label media outlets, as opposed to banning them from advertising. They feel like this decision allows them to offer greater transparency. Finally, Facebook added that all advertisers must obey and follow local laws, and anyone that violates those is at risk of a temporary or permanent ban.

The severity of this is more than one may assume as we here at ThePatriotHill can’t even run ads to our articles using Facebook. The fact that the Chinese media were able to run hundreds of propaganda based ads so easily is a bit concerning.