Concealed Online is an anonymously owned (the owner won't divulge his identity due to fear of reprisals) company whose customers complain scammed them by tricking them into taking its online curriculum for Virginia's farcical easy concealed carry permits, without divulging that these permits are useless in the rest of America.
During the 2018 midterm season, Concealed Online bought $2,000,000 worth of ads on Facebook that warned Republicans that a coming Blue Wave would result in Democrats "coming for their guns" and urging them to get their concealed carry permits before that happened (again, without prominently divulging that these permits were useless outside of Virginia).
We know about the ads because of Facebook's voluntary transparency measures about political ads. Concealed Online gets an F from the Better Business Bureau. Concealed Online completed Facebook's "political advertiser" registration, and Facebook says that its ads did not violate Facebook's standards.
Instead, they feature urgent warnings, like, "The election is just DAYS AWAY and Gun Control Lawmakers could do a FULL STOP 🛑 on your 2nd Amendment rights! FAST-TRACK your Concealed Carry Certification ONLINE! It’s FREE, EASY, and STILL LEGAL! IGNORE AT YOUR OWN RISK." And yet, Concealed Online's owner rejects the idea that this is in any way a political ad. "It all depends on the intent of the ad. What’s the call to action? 100 percent of the time our call to action is: Click here to buy our product," he says. "The intention is to cause a sense of urgency to achieve more sales."
An Obscure Concealed Carry Group Spent Millions on Facebook Political Ads [Issie Lapowsky/Wired]
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