Weeks before election, Facebook deleted page selling pro-Trump apparel
October 30, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Without warning, Facebook removed the business page of pro-Trump, multi-million dollar apparel company American AF on October 16, a little over two weeks before the presidential election, arguing it gave the misleading impression the merchandise was officially associated with the Trump campaign.
American AF subsequently received an offer from Facebook to help set up a new page for continued advertising. The original page had reached over 1.6 million followers and was operated for five years without issue. Then, it was removed by Facebook.
The founder and CEO of American AF, former Marine officer Shawn Wylde, told American Military News that his company “has never claimed to promote official Trump campaign merchandise.”
“We’re independent. They know that. What that tells us is that this [decision] is malicious. It was done to punish us, to stop us from doing what they think is helping Trump in the election,” said Wylde.
Current Facebook policy regarding misrepresentation prohibits impersonating others by “creating a page assuming to be or speak for another person or entity for whom the user is not authorized to do so,” or “posting imagery that is likely to deceive the public as to the content’s origin, if: the entity or authorized representative objects to the content, and can establish a risk of harm to members of the public.”
The page is described by American Military News as “wildly popular.” Trump himself shared one of the brand’s images on Twitter in November of 2019: A picture of Trump’s face seamlessly merged with the body of the movie character Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone. It is currently one of Trump’s most liked tweets.
Donald Trump Jr. has also posted one of the company’s images to Facebook. The graphic depicts Trump standing atop a tank in front of an American flag, with an explosion going off behind him, money swirling in the air, and his signature line “You’re fired” inscribed on the tank.
American AF (officially called AAF Nation, LLC) is listed as Facebook’s third-highest political advertiser, as measured by number of ad impressions, according to the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Research Team.
Their current apparel graphics and messaging have a strong politically conservative bent, and include, along with an entire collection devoted to Trump, merchandise taking jabs at Joe Biden.
American AF states on its website, “We created American AF for one reason and one reason only: To bring you the most AMERICAN collection of clothing the world has ever seen.”
Wylde’s lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, described Facebook’s decision to shut down the company’s Facebook page as a “classic case of breach of contract.”
“What makes this case so different is that his content has not changed. They’ve never had a problem with his content until two weeks before the election,” Parlatore said.
After removing the page, Facebook reportedly told Wylde “that he could create a new page and continue his advertising.”
The company has since created a new Facebook page. “We are not affiliated with the Trump campaign nor are we promoting official Trump merchandise,” the description points out now.
Wylde told American Military News that the deletion of his Facebook business page was “akin to shuttering an entire brick and mortar business.”
Wylde had built his company a few years after being stripped of $92,000 — his entire life savings — in payment to the Marine Corps during the Obama presidency’s cuts to military spending.