Facebook Listens to Civil Rights Advocates, Takes Down Trump’s Deceptive Census Ads

Census News 03.5,20

Contact: Tamika Turner, [email protected], 202.466.2061 

Company’s own census interference policy prohibits misrepresentation of census information

WASHINGTON – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference Education Fund, issued the following statement on Facebook’s decision to take down Trump and Pence campaign ads that misled people about the census. The misleading content included calling on users to “take this census” and “take the Official 2020 Congressional District Census.” Facebook’s actions followed direct engagement from Gupta to the tech firm’s senior leadership yesterday evening.

“While we’re gratified that Facebook shut down Trump’s attempt to sow confusion about how and when to participate in the 2020 Census, it’s disturbing that the ads weren’t immediately removed. The Education Fund, along with other civil rights groups, helped Facebook create its robust census interference policy and we will continue to hold Facebook accountable to enforce it. Nothing should distract from making sure everyone gets counted. The company has done its civic obligation by removing these deceptive ads.

“The Education Fund and our Census Counts campaign will continue to remain vigilant about enforcement of the policy because so much is at stake with the 2020 Census. We won’t let false information block people from the chance to bring resources and political power to our communities by participating in the census. If we miss out on the census, we miss out for the next 10 years.” 


  • The Education Fund engaged with senior Facebook leadership yesterday evening and this morning to push them to remove the ads. This afternoon Gupta received a reply that the company would remove the ads.

  • The Trump campaign’s deceptive census ads were in clear violation of Facebook’s policy protecting the 2020 Census from interference (available here) which prohibits “misrepresentation of the dates, locations, times and methods for census participation.”

  • Gupta’s statement on Facebook’s announcement of its policy, where she noted, “any good policy is meaningless without proper enforcement,” is available here

  • The Census Bureau’s guidance, which urges “businesses and organizations that conduct mass mailings or commercial solicitations to avoid using likenesses of the U.S. Census Bureau and 2020 Census materials that may confuse recipients and the public as to their origin or purpose,” is available here.  

  • Most households will receive mailed or hand-delivered invitations to participate in the 2020 Census beginning March 12. These invitations will only come from the U.S. Census Bureau. A full outline of 2020 Census operations is here.

  • The Leadership Conference Education Fund houses the Census Counts campaign — an effort by national, state, and local organizations providing community education, training, organizing, and outreach to ensure communities the census has historically missed don’t miss out on the resources and political power their communities deserve. There are two main prongs:

    • The national Get Out the Count (GOTC) coalition
    • Our States Count Action Network

Our organizations include people and networks who live and work in the communities most at risk of being missed in the 2020 Census. As trusted national and local messengers, Census Counts organizations are able to communicate the facts and importance of the census, provide resources to facilitate participation, and address community members’ concerns.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit civilrights.org/edfund/.