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December 2, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:40am

Facebook takes down Tory election advert using ‘distorted’ BBC News footage

By Charlotte Tobitt

The BBC has welcomed Facebook’s removal of Conservative adverts featuring “distorted” footage of some of its top journalists reporting on Brexit, including political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

The social network said seven paid-for adverts were taken down because they breached its intellectual property policies.

The adverts featured video and audio clips of Kuenssberg and BBC News at Ten anchor Huw Edwards reporting on reaction to Government defeats in Parliament that delayed Brexit under Boris Johnson’s premiership.

In the 15-second ad, Kuenssberg was heard saying “pointless delay to Brexit” and adding that there had been “real drama there in the House of Commons tonight.”

Edwards was seen reporting on “another Brexit delay” while political correspondent Jonathan Blake described “a result which means Parliament now holds the Prime Minister prisoner”.

It ended with the strapline: “Stop the chaos in Parliament. Get Brexit done.”

The BBC complained to Tory party chairman James Cleverly last week, saying the ad was a “completely unacceptable use of BBC content which distorts our output and which could damage perceptions of our impartiality”.

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But the Conservatives refused to take the advert down, saying: “This video uses contemporary news footage to remind voters of the deadlock and delay of the last three years caused by a broken Parliament that did everything it could to block Brexit.

“Viewers can judge for themselves, but it is clear the footage was not edited in a manner that misleads or changes the reporting.”

The adverts can no longer be seen in Facebook’s ad library, which lists all political ads. Instead, a placeholder states: “This ad was taken down because it goes against Facebook’s intellectual property policies.”

A Facebook spokesperson said: “We have removed this content following a valid intellectual property claim from the rights holder, the BBC.

“Whenever we receive valid IP claims against content on the platform, in advertising or elsewhere, we act in accordance with our policies and take action as required.”

In response, Edwards said: “Good. My thoughts on this kind of stunt are unprintable,” while Kuenssberg said: “Quite right too.”

A BBC spokesperson said: “We welcome the decision.”

Google removed eight adverts paid for by the Conservative Party between 18 November and 2 December because they violated its ad policies, according to the company’s latest transparency report.

However the tech giant has refused to give any further details, saying it does not disclose the nature of policy violations.

Picture: BBC

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