Facebook advertises military gear during January 6 US attempted coup

Occurred: January 2021

Facebook ran adverts for military gear and weapons accessories next to posts about the January 6 attempted insurrection in Washington DC, prompting questions about its safety systems.

Non-profit Tech Transparency Project's (TTP) discovery raised questions about the effectiveness of the social network's content safety measures. It also prompted a number of Democrat senators to ask Mark Zuckerberg to permanently block ads of products clearly designed to be used in armed combat.

Facebook later said it would ban ads for weapon accessories and protective equipment in the US 'out of an abundance of caution' until at least two days after Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021.

TTP's discovery comes weeks after it had found that Facebook was permitting US militia groups to run recruitment ads on its platform.

Operator: Meta/Facebook

Developer: Meta/Facebook

Country: USA

Sector: Retail

Purpose: Review advertising

Technology: Advertising management system

Issue: Safety; Accuracy/reliability; Ethics
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Research, advocacy 🧮

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: January 2021
Last updated: December 2023