Political Notebook

Heng claims victory as Facebook allows ad depicting Cambodian genocide

In congressional run, Elizabeth Heng wants to give back to the place she calls home

Fresno native Elizabeth Heng announcing her run for Congress, against Jim Costa, talks about long-overdue changes in the Central Valley that she envisions happening, while visiting her family’s Rasmey Market, where she worked as a child.
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Fresno native Elizabeth Heng announcing her run for Congress, against Jim Costa, talks about long-overdue changes in the Central Valley that she envisions happening, while visiting her family’s Rasmey Market, where she worked as a child.

Elizabeth Heng, the Fresno Republican challenging Rep. Jim Costa in the 16th District, scored a victory Tuesday after blasting Facebook for refusing to approve a campaign ad that featured footage from the Cambodian genocide.

Heng’s parents are Cambodian refugees who fled to America to escape the genocide. Facebook rejected the ad, which Heng attempted to boost Friday through the website’s advertising platform. The rejection notes Facebook does not “accept ads that are shocking, disrespectful or sensational, including ads that depict violence or threats of violence.”

On Tuesday, Heng’s campaign announced that Facebook had approved the ad. The move came after a weekend in which Heng pounded the social media giant on Twitter and other platforms, leading to several publications including Fox News and National Review to write about the apparent snub.

Heng screenshot
Republican Elizabeth Heng fought a five-day battle to have her campaign advertisement, which features scenes from the Cambodian genocide, approved by Facebook. Heng for Congress Facebook

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, also retweeted the National Review story.

A spokesman for Facebook confirmed Tuesday the advertisement had been approved.

“Upon further review, it is clear the video contains historical imagery relevant to the candidate’s story,” the statement said. “We have since approved the ad, and it is now running on Facebook.”

Heng claimed the website was attempting to censor her because she is a Republican. She said Facebook and other social media platforms have repeatedly attempted to shut out Republican candidates and organizations.

“I’m deeply disappointed that Facebook would not give me a public apology for targeting a conservative candidate for Congress,” Heng said. “It took them five days and an immense amount of pressure before they ‘realized’ that they deliberately blocked my history and my story.”

Facebook did not respond to Heng’s specific allegations.

Last week, Rep. Devin Nunes and McCarthy made similar claims against Twitter, which they accused of hiding Nunes’ account from Twitter users.

Rory Appleton: 559-441-6015, @RoryDoesPhonics
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