Facebook has just made it harder for illegal aliens living in the United States to post ads on Facebook after the social media site declared they are cracking down on their security measures in order to prevent any future foreign meddling in elections, reports Vice News.
And it’s all thanks to liberals who have been badgering the social media giant since the election of Donald Trump. They have insisted that the foreign influence of Russia led to Hillary Clinton losing. So, Facebook has responded. It’s just not the way they would have hoped.
Facebook announced that if anyone wants to buy a political ad on their site they must also have a Social Security number along with a U.S. passport or a valid driver’s license.
These new regulations are estimated to be banning 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. from buying political ads on any topic, including immigration. This prohibition also applies to those in the Obama era DACA program, and for the people often referred to as “Dreamers.”
To say the least, liberals and immigration rights activists are not happy about the decision, saying that this will lessen their influence on political process or activism.
“This is excluding an important part of the nation who are being affected by its policies,” Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a New York Democrat who was undocumented in the U.S. in his youth, told VICE News. “It will carve them out of being part of any issue-oriented campaign, and if undocumented people want to weigh in on DACA or Dreamers, they can’t in the same way.”
Facebook is planning on rolling out these new regulations for federal elections taking place over the next few months with plans of extending them to state and local races. Illegal immigrants are still allowed to vote in some localities, and in San Francisco, they can even vote in school board races.
But Facebook responded to Vice News inquiries and they apparently want to try to combat this loophole in their new regulations that exclude undocumented immigrants: “We know that process, as currently designed, presents challenges for some groups, and we’re exploring solutions now to address those concerns,” a spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement.
According to Vice News, Facebook’s verification system goes well beyond the federal limits on political speech which only apply to ads that directly advocated for the election or defeat of a candidate, not for so-called “issue ads,” which is what most illegal aliens would be using on Facebook.
Facebook isn’t taking any chances though and wants to verify every ad “related to any national legislative issue of public importance in any place where the ad is being run.”
Their strict control on all kinds of ads on Facebook is probably because the majority of the Russian-bought ads during and after the 2016 election didn’t mention Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump but were rather focused on polarizing issues like race, religion and of course, immigration.
Immigrant rights activists are upset that Facebook’s decision not only excludes a large group of vulnerable people but also could have real political consequences on the immigration debate.
“This idea that if you are undocumented that you don’t have a voice on one of the major platforms is undemocratic,” said Angel Padilla, the policy director for the progressive group Indivisible, which has been especially active advocating for Dreamers. “This is a flawed way of trying to tackle foreign interference, and the consequence here is the harming of people who have a valid claim on the process.”
Facebook isn’t the online site trying to reign in foreign interference on their platform. Google announced last week a new verification system for any “election ad” that will require proving that the buyer is a U.S. citizen or a “lawful permanent resident.”
Google’s new rules are not as expansive as Facebook, saying that their regulations only apply to federal elections and candidate advocacy.
“The First Amendment does not apply generally to private actors,” Joshua Geltzer, the founding executive director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law School, told VICE News. “Unless that actor is being co-opted by government, they really have the right to regulate speech across their platform in all sorts of ways that government cannot.”
But Geltzer argued that just because Facebook’s actions are legal doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be scrutinized.
“The next three decisions on speech by Facebook, Google, and Twitter are maybe more important than the next 30 Supreme Court decisions on it,” he said.