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As Trump attacks voting by mail, his campaign is promoting it on Facebook

Thousands of ads have been viewed more than 1 million times in states including Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Donald Trump

Trump is running thousands of Facebook ads encouraging people to request their ballots.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump's campaign is flooding swing states with Facebook ads, urging people to request their ballots for November's election, despite his frequent and unfounded claims that voting by mail is riddled with fraud.

According to Facebook's ad archive, the president is currently running thousands of ads on Facebook, with messages like "President Trump wants you to request your ballot," or, more succinctly, "Request your ballot." The ads, which don't explicitly mention voting by mail, have been viewed more than 1 million times by Facebook users in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Facebook ads are running as robocalls featuring the president's son, Donald Trump Jr., have rolled out in 13 states calling absentee voting "a safe and secure way to guarantee your voice is heard." Both messages are a far cry from the president's claims that "there is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent." This week, the FBI refuted those claims, saying they have "not seen to date a coordinated national voter fraud effort."

The ads aren't just about encouraging people to vote by mail. They also double as a data collection maneuver. Clicking through them leads to the Trump campaign's website, where people are asked to enter their address, date of birth, email and phone number, before being directed to resources where they can check their registration status, commit to vote or continue on to their state's board of elections. Generally, only first name, last name and date of birth are required to check registration status.

Trump's Facebook ads The ads double as a data collection maneuver.Screenshot: Facebook

President Trump's digital director, Gary Coby, did not immediately respond to Protocol's request for comment.

Facebook has recently undertaken its own voter turnout push, launching its Voter Information Center, which leads users to resources where they can sign up to vote by mail. Recently, the watchdog group Tech Transparency Project accused Facebook of bowing to the Trump campaign, after internal emails suggested the company scaled back its initial rollout of the Center over the July 4th weekend. Facebook's spokesperson Andy Stone told Protocol the emails were the result of a "miscommunication," but would not comment on whether the rollout was in fact scaled back.

Facebook introduced its ad archive after the 2016 election, amid concerns over so-called "dark ads," which referred to microtargeted digital ads that only a tiny fraction of the electorate would ever see. Some worried that politicians could send one palatable message to the public, then use targeted ads for more underhanded tactics like suppressing the vote. Amid threats of regulation, Facebook created the archive to shed more light on those dark ads.

In this set of ads, the Trump campaign is definitely broadcasting a different message than it has in public, only in this case, it's the public message that has people accusing the president of voter suppression.

The Trump campaign has tried to distinguish in the past between absentee voting — which the president and his wife, Melania, plan to do — and universal mail-in voting. But the ads make no such distinction. Neither, it turns out, does the U.S. Postal Service.

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Image: Tesla/Protocol

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The massive valuation definitely screams tech, as does the company's investment in self-driving software and battery development. But at the end of the day, this might not be enough to convince skeptics that Tesla is anything other than a car company that uses tech. It also raises questions about the role that timeliness plays in calling something tech. In a potential future where EVs are the norm and many run on Tesla's own software — which is well within the realm of possibility — will Tesla lose its claim to a tech pedigree?

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Apple and at least two other Silicon Valley companies have decided to delay their reopenings in response to rising COVID-19 case counts.

Photo: Luis Alvarez via Getty

Apple grabbed headlines this week when it told employees it would delay its office reopening until October or later. But the iPhone maker wasn't alone: At least two other Silicon Valley companies decided to delay their reopenings last week in response to rising COVID-19 case counts.

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Half of working parents have felt discriminated against during COVID

A new survey found that working parents at the VP level are more likely to say they've faced discrimination at work than their lower-level counterparts.

A new survey looks at discrimination faced by working parents during the pandemic.

Photo: d3sign/Getty Images

The toll COVID-19 has taken on working parents — particularly working moms — is, by now, well-documented. The impact for parents in low-wage jobs has been particularly devastating.

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Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

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Photo: Getty Images

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