Facebook shut down and banned an apparel company’s page recently, stating the site falsely claimed to be selling official Trump campaign merchandise — but instead sold non-affiliated gear. The site’s owners insist Facebook knows that’s a false claim and instead locked them out because the business is clearly pro-Trump.
The U.S. veteran-owned apparel company, American AF, offers no subtly or nuance in its patriotic stances, representations of pro-America figures in its products and its open support of President Trump’s reelection campaign. The imagery on their shirts, caps, stickers, face masks and other gear can range from wildly supportive or bluntly satirical, but the political bent remains distinctively and unapologetically patriotic and right wing.
Facebook reportedly informed American AF the social media giant shut down the company’s business page on October 16. At the time of the banning, American AF’s Facebook page had more than 1.6 million followers and served as one of the company’s most important sales portals.
The notification of the closure made it clear the ban was permanent. A Facebook representative alleged American AF was promoting merchandise with Trump’s name and his well-known campaign slogan of “Keep America Great” without official permission from the White House or the presidential reelection campaign.
According to an American AF statement given to American Military News, the company received no complaints from the Trump campaign along the lines Facebook indicated. CEO Shawn Wylde, a former Marine officer who founded American AF in 2015, said his company never claimed to promote official Trump campaign merchandise. He insists Facebook shut down his business’ page for selling Trump material and openly supporting the President’s reelection bid.
The company reports more than $15 million in sales in 2019. Wylde adds that his firm spent more than $16.6 million in Facebook advertising over the past five years.
Wylde reports that Facebook contacted American AF after the banning to offer help in creating a new page and continue his advertising. Instead, Wylde indicated the damage done to his business would warrant a lawsuit.
Facebook issued no additional official statements on the American AF account.