Facebook sold ads that compared vaccines to the Holocaust and said ‘Make Hanging Traitors Great Again’

A man looks at a computer screen with the Facebook logo
A man looks at a computer screen with a Facebook logo in Warsaw, Poland on February 21, 2021 Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Facebook made $US780,000 ($AU1,099,231) selling ads with violent and anti-vaccine messages, CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan reported.
  • It boosted at least four ads for shirts that compared vaccines to the Holocaust.
  • The pages running the ads have fewer than 10,000 followers, but the ads reached around 1 million people each.

Facebook sold ads for t-shirts and sweaters with slogans that likened the US COVID-19 response to Nazi Germany and suggested that vaccines are poison or like the Holocaust, CNN’s Donnie O’Sullivan reported.

In the last few years, the social media platform has made $US780,000 ($AU1,099,231) in total from such clothing ads, which were run by the pages “Ride the Red Wave” and “Next Level Goods,” Sullivan wrote.

“Slowly and quietly, but it’s a Holocaust,” read the shirt design on one ad, which featured a syringe alluding to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Another ad touted a similar syringe design on a shirt that said: “Proudly Unpoisoned.” According to Facebook data, it was mostly shown to men, and the top states it displayed the ad in were Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and California.

On November 29 to 30, the page “Ride the Red Wave” ran ads for a sweater that said: “I’m originally from America but I currently reside in 1941 Germany,” comparing the US pandemic response to the Nazi regime’s rule of Germany in the early years of World War II.

“Make Hanging Traitors Great Again,” said another shirt on an ad run in June. While the first three ads were taken down for violating Facebook’s advertising policies, this one has not been removed at the time of publishing. 

The pages running these ads paid Facebook to reach estimated audiences of more than 1 million people per ad, though “Ride the Red Wave” has fewer than 10,000 followers, according to CNN, and “Next Level Goods” has fewer than 7,000 likes, according to Facebook data.

A spokesperson for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, told CNN that the ads comparing vaccines to the Holocaust and poison, as well as the one that suggested the pandemic response was like 1941 Germany, went against Facebook’s vaccine misinformation policies.

It did not say if the “Make Hanging Traitors Great Again” ad violated its policies, per CNN.

Facebook and Meta regularly say that they’ve aided vaccination efforts and have helped people get accurate and verified information about COVID-19. 

Facebook did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.