Fact or Fiction: Political Ads Edition

HAGERSTOWN, MD News (11/1/2022) – Election Day is fast approaching, and Washington County residents are doing their best to gather the information necessary to make their votes count. In this digital age, one of the most convenient ways to learn about and discuss politics is social media. Our feeds seem flooded with discussions and sponsored ads about topics and candidates from all parties, but can you trust the information you see in sponsored ads? Radio Free Hub City is a non-biased news outlet, and we call it like we see it. After having many readers reach out with concerns about the validity of information on their social feeds, we decided to investigate. Using an example submitted by a reader, we did some digging, and we will use that example to illustrate the concerning information we uncovered.

Locally, the race is heating up between District 2B candidates for Delegate Brenda Thiam (R, incumbent) and Brooke Grossman (D). We have chosen this race as our example because this particular contest has seen some heated exchanges between voters on social media. Radio Free Hub City does not endorse and is in no way sponsored by either candidate or their respective party.

Many residents share concerns about rampant drug use in our local parks and places of recreation. Addiction and overdoses are unfortunately on the rise nationwide, and countless lives have been affected in our own community. Finding good solutions is key, and residents look to their leaders to come up with ideas to help residents struggling with addiction while making sure that our places of recreation remain safe for the general public to use. Drug paraphernalia and other biohazardous litter endanger the entire community.

A local organization sponsored an ad on Facebook that claimed Grossman wanted to place a Safe Injection facility in Hagerstown, where people could go to use illegal and often fatal drugs. Radio Free Hub City’s Christine “Bauce” Boring reached out to Grossman for comment after several residents reached out to RFHC hoping to find out if the information was true, and if so, why Grossman thought this would be a good idea.

Facebook ad with claims regarding "legalized heroin injection sites"
Facebook ad with claims regarding “legalized heroin injection sites”

Grossman thanked us for asking, and was quick to provide a link to her official platform and a synopsis to clarify that what she ACTUALLY suggests is a 24/7 intervention center to provide harm reduction and help for at-risk addicts, NOT an injection site, because she does not feel that we have enough information to know whether an injection site is positive for our community. Grossman went on to say that she has suffered personal loss of loved ones as a result of drug use, and cares deeply about helping residents in need of harm reduction services.

After verifying that what Grossman explained by visiting her official website and viewing social media interactions in which she suggested a bipartisan roundtable debate about the topic, Radio Free Hub City is confident in informing readers that the aforementioned sponsored ad had made untrue claims.

Again, this is only one example to illustrate the following point: Anyone can take out a sponsored ad on social media, and the entity behind an ad may not have the correct or official information about a candidate’s stance on any given topic. Voters that want to make sure they have correct information can visit a candidates official website or reach out to a candidate or their campaign personally, as many are very responsive. A voter can also click the information icon on a social media ad. On Facebook and Instagram, sponsored ads about politics must include information about who paid for the ad, and data that explains the ad’s target audience. This information can provide clues about the motivation behind a sponsored post. Radio Free Hub City cares about our audience, and realizes that it can be difficult to make sure you’ve found accurate truthful information to make your votes count for your community. We truly hope that this article helps combat misinformation and mud-slinging tactics, because we are counting on our elected officials to help us solve a myriad of issues and ensure a bright future for our hometown.

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