AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Facebook has removed ads from the Trump campaign that used symbolism associated with Nazi concentration camps. The social network says the posts violate its policies against hate. The Trump campaign is criticizing Facebook's move and stands by the ads. This, of course, comes amid mounting tensions between the president and big tech. For more, we're joined now by NPR's Bobby Allyn in San Francisco.
BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Hey there.
CHANG: Hey. So what exactly are these ads at the center of all this?
ALLYN: Yeah, so these ads blame, quote, "dangerous mobs of far-left groups" that supposedly are running through the streets and causing mayhem in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. And the ad here ties the mass demonstrations we've been seeing to the loose group of antifascist activists known as Antifa. Trump has been connecting the demonstrations to this group for some time even though there's no evidence at all that, you know, they played a significant role in the protests. And so this ad says protesters are, you know, rioting and destroying America's cities. And this was written above a giant upside-down red triangle. And it's that image that really has caused this intense backlash.
CHANG: An upside-down red triangle. OK, what have historians and other experts have said about this symbol?
ALLYN: Yeah, so I've talked to some historians about this, and they say that it was used in Nazi concentration camps to identify prisoners, that these upside-down triangles were actually sewn into prison uniforms, used to identify, you know, on what grounds people were being held. I talked to the Anti-Defamation League's CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, and he applauded Facebook for taking down the ads. He said, you know, using Nazi-era imagery in a political ad is offensive and hateful. And he asked the Trump campaign to apologize.
CHANG: And how has the Trump Administration responded so far?
ALLYN: They're knuckling down, and they're defending the ad. They first likened it, the triangle - the upside-down triangle - to a texting emoji.
CHANG: An emoji?
ALLYN: They then, you know, pointed to various - yeah, an emoji. You know, you send your friends a little emoji. They then pointed to various online products that use this image next to the word Antifa as proof that Antifa does embrace the image. But experts I talked to said, you know, actually in the U.S., this symbol is not associated with the Antifa movement. But for the Trump campaign, Ailsa, it's important that, you know, to focus on how they are using this moment to talk about their war with big tech. It is a big theme of the campaign. For weeks now, the Trump administration has been attempting to punish and limit the legal protection for social media companies like Facebook and Twitter for occasionally moderating things that Trump tweets and posts on Facebook.
CHANG: All right, that is NPR's Bobby Allyn.
Thank you, Bobby.
ALLYN: Thanks, Ailsa.
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