A Republican Party candidate for the U.S. Senate released a campaign ad where he appears to call on voters to ready themselves to go “RINO hunting.” The ad was removed by Facebook for violating its policy against promoting violence.

On Monday, Facebook said that it took down the 38-second video of Missouri’s U.S. Senate candidate Eric Greitens, which begins by telling supporters “Today, we’re going RINO hunting.”

“The RINO feeds on corruption and is marked by the stripes of cowardice … There’s no bagging limit, no tagging limit, and it doesn’t expire until we save our country,” Greitens says in the video.

Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, cocks a shotgun before joining a group of men dressed in military-style uniforms as they conduct a mock raid on a home. Walking into the room, Greitens implores voters to “join the MAGA crew” and get a “RINO hunting permit” before the video ends. 

RINO is an acronym for “Republicans In Name Only”, a pejorative term that was popularized by former President Donald Trump as a label for opponents and critics within his Republican Party. 

A spokesperson for Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said that the ad violated its policy against violence and incitement. The video remains available on Greitens’ Twitter account after determining it may still be within the public’s interest to view it. 

Greitens himself accused the company of censoring the video and declared his intent to target Big Tech if elected. 

“Facebook CENSORED our new ad calling out the weak RINOs. When I get to the US Senate, we are taking on Big Tech,” the candidate wrote on Facebook.

Democrats were quick to condemn Greitens’ ad as “fascist messaging” and as advocacy for violence. Among Republicans, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who recently shared threats to murder him and his family over his role on the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot, also criticized Greitens.

“Did you get a tie a girl up in the basement permit?  You’re a very bad man,” Kinzinger wrote, referring to a 2018 allegation that Greitens tied up and sexually assaulted a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.  Charges in that case were dropped over lack of evidence. 

Greitens has staked his campaign on presenting himself as an ardent supporter of Trump and an enemy of the Republican establishment. Trump has yet to offer his endorsement, while other Republicans have questioned whether Greitens can prevail in November despite Missouri’s red tilt.

Being a former governor of Missouri, Greitens is well-known in the state, but his time in office was marred by his resignation in the face of sexual assault allegations. In March, his former wife accused him of physically abusing their children, adding to his political woes. 

A smartphone with Facebook's logo is seen in front of displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration A smartphone with Facebook's logo is seen in front of displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration taken October 28, 2021. Photo: Reuters / DADO RUVIC