Meta is allowing PragerU Kids — which misleadingly promotes right-wing propaganda as educational materials for children — to circumvent its advertising policies and run ads related to “social issues, elections or politics” without the required transparency. Media Matters has identified dozens of these ads that ran on Meta's platforms since July 11 and promoted content that right-wing organization PragerU claims provides “the solution to woke education” by protecting kids from “radical ideas about gender, race, and anti-Americanism.”
Recently, the state of Florida approved content from PragerU Kids — a new branch of PragerU that makes “pro-American kids shows” — for use in public school curricula, and PragerU CEO Marissa Streit has claimed that other states are also considering allowing the inclusion of this content.
Media Matters has previously reported on the content of the videos created by PragerU Kids, explaining that the “goal is to render history and its inheritances invisible, inert, and incapable.” Journalists at other outlets have noted that its content for young children has been referred to as “indoctrination,” even by other right-wing groups, and that some of the content is “quasi-white nationalist.” Lessons include instruction on how to not be a “victim,” discussion of the importance of conforming to societal expectations of assigned gender, and claims that historical wrongs are not relevant to today's problems — such as a video of a fictional cartoon of Booker T. Washington downplaying the reality of American slavery.
Since July 11, the Facebook page for PragerU Kids has run at least 109 ads on Meta's platforms that were not categorized as being about “social issues, elections or politics,” despite at least two of three Media Matters researchers independently determining that they met the criteria to be categorized as such. Meta has only removed 12 of these ads for not having the necessary labels.
Meta states that its policies around ads pertaining to “social issues, elections or politics” are meant to promote “transparency, accountability and authenticity,” and so it requires that such advertisers go through a specific authorization process and disclose who paid for the ads. Because these ads are not categorized accordingly, Media Matters was unable to determine the total amount spent on the ads or the total impressions garnered (the number of times the ads appeared on users' screens).
Despite these policies, Meta allowed PragerU Kids to run ads without proper disclaimers, including ads that claimed teachers are pushing “radical ideas about gender, race, and anti-Americanism” on students, promoted propaganda materials on its website as “the solution to woke education," and amplified a petition “to allow PragerU in schools” across America.
Two of the 12 ads Meta removed for not having a disclaimer — and thus acknowledged that they were related to “social issues, elections or politics” — specifically promoted PragerU's school petition. Regardless, Media Matters has identified at least 7 other ads promoting the petition that Meta has not removed.
Meta has also not taken action against 18 ads that promoted PragerU Kids’ Guess or Mess, which the company describes as a game show for kids “about important figures who represent American values,” but were not appropriately labeled and are similar to five additional ads Meta removed.
Parent company PragerU has heavily relied on Meta’s advertising features, at times spending more on ads “than major political campaigns and national advocacy groups.” As of August 28, PragerU has spent at least $17.6 million on ads — the 12th highest ad spending total, based on ads on its own page, among Meta advertisers since the company started tracking political ad spending in May 2018. Many of the ads have spread misinformation, pushed users to right-wing alternative platforms, or spread anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
This is not the first time Meta has failed to enforce its advertising policies on ads with political content. In 2020, PragerU, The Daily Wire, and other right-wing organizations ran ads addressing social issues, elections, or politics without the required disclaimer, which helped them to circumvent the company’s restriction on political ads around that year’s election.