If there was any doubt about why the political Left has suddenly turned against Facebook, it has become clear: It is because they think the social media behemoth is helping President Donald Trump.
Revelations last week by top executive Andrew Bosworth, a vice president who was in charge of advertising during the 2016 election season, won’t disabuse liberals of that. Bosworth, however, did not give Facebook credit for the Trump campaign’s success in 2016 – rather, he attributed it to where it belonged.
“He ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period,” Bosworth wrote in a private Facebook post that he later made public after the New York Times published a story about it.
“[Digital Director Brad] Parscale and Trump just did unbelievable work,” added Bosworth, a self-proclaimed liberal who is reportedly close to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “They weren’t running misinformation or hoaxes. They weren’t microtargeting or saying different things to different people. They just used the tools we had to show the right creative to each person. The use of custom audiences, video, ecommerce, and fresh creative remains the high water mark of digital ad campaigns in my opinion.”
These are the same tools Trump’s ideological opposition have utilized, some with great success. As the left-leaning Brookings Institution noted last week, in 2008 (and 2012) “Barack Obama pioneered the application of big data and microtargeting on social media, improving his chances of winning the presidency.”
US News & World Report echoed that theme in a 2008 post-election analysis on Obama’s victory, saying he was “a new-generation politician who shrewdly understands the electoral power of the Web.”
“For the past two years, Facebook has overwhelmingly been pro-Obama virtual territory,” the news site explained. “Some have attributed Obama’s victory to a ‘Facebook effect.’ Obama is a natural Facebook politician.”
But now, after Trump’s success in 2016 and Facebook’s decision to not “fact-check” political ads for the 2020 cycle, the liberals are whining – even as the company announced steps to make those running ads more transparent, and will allow users to determine whether or not advertisers can access their newsfeeds. That’s still not enough, Trump’s Democrat opposition says:
- “Donald Trump’s campaign can (and will) still lie in political ads,” said Bill Russo, Joe Biden’s deputy communications director, in a statement. “Facebook can (and will) still profit off it. Today’s announcement is more window dressing around their decision to allow paid misinformation.”
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted, “Facebook is paying for its own glowing fake news coverage, so it’s not surprising that they’re standing their ground on letting political figures lie to you. Facebook needs real competition and accountability so that our democracy isn’t held hostage to their desire to make money.”
- “Facebook is doubling down on a policy that hurts our democracy,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota in a statement. “It is wrong to take money from political campaigns in exchange for disseminating blatant lies to the American people.”
The Democrat candidates for president act as though Trump cornered the market on deception in political ads. Just watch a few Obama claims and ads against John McCain and Mitt Romney, which would have been boosted on Facebook during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, and you can easily find examples. Democrats didn’t complain then about the “natural Facebook politician.”
And it wasn’t long ago that many of them defended Facebook against Republican accusations of bias against conservatives.
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on tech bias in July 2018 (when Republicans had the majority), Democrats said the premise was an “imaginary narrative” and that GOP members were holding a “dumb hearing,” while Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California said, “There’s been no evidence whatsoever I have seen or the majority has been able to provide that there’s any bias whatsoever.”
And Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said at a subcommittee hearing in April 2019 that Republicans’ claims are based on “nothing more than a mix of anecdotal evidence… and a failure to understand the companies algorithms and content moderation practices.”
Now Democrat leaders and their leftist supporters are freaking out because Zuckerberg has had a few meetings with conservative thought leaders to discuss free speech, which he has said is the solution to counter falsehoods in political ads and Facebook posts (like it always has been).
“In a democracy, I don’t think it’s right for public companies to censor policies or the news,” Zuckerberg told investors and journalists late last year.
Looks like a Democrat victory may hinge on their nominee overcoming the new “natural Facebook politician.”