Update (11/3/23): This article has been updated with additional examples.
Meta has allowed — and profited from — multiple ads on its social media sites that baselessly claim Hamas’ October attack on Israel was a false flag. At least three of the ads have violated Meta’s rules.
Between October 8 and October 12, a Danish political party ran an ad on Facebook and Instagram in Danish that when translated to English says, “Have you seen the evidence? That Hamas should have fired 5,000 rockets at Israel, killed over 300 Israelis, wounded 1,700 and taken several hostages? No, you haven’t, because that’s a lie! You are witnessing a ‘false flag’ operation to give Israel an excuse to eradicate Gaza.”
Another ad, which went up on October 21, featured a video of far-right figure and antisemite Rick Wiles saying that Hamas’ attacks were actually carried out by the “Israeli Mossad” and another person saying, “That’s the literal definition of a false flag.”
Other ads with the same Wiles video were removed by Meta for not following its advertising policies, but the October 21 ad had remained up through October 26. At time of publication, the ad no longer appears in Meta’s Ad Library, with an error message explaining that “this can happen when an ad expires or is deleted, or when it’s incorrectly categorized as an ad about social issues, elections or politics.”
Nevertheless, another Facebook and Instagram ad featuring the Wiles video started running on October 31. And the day before, another ad that claimed the “Oct/7 Hamas attack [was] part of [an] IDF false flag attack” started running on both platforms.
Some of Meta’s fact-checking partners have debunked the false flag claim, and Meta’s rules prohibit ads “that include content debunked by third-party fact checkers,” meaning that Meta apparently earned money from ads violating its own rules.