How Facebook's Algorithm Really Affects Politics

A new on-demand course, the content battle

Beyond Facebook and Twitter X: Engaging Audiences On Other Social Networks.
Leadership Institute
I’ve been working with the team at the Leadership Institute to produce this new, on-demand training course. If you’re a campaigner who’s trying to figure out whether to join a new platform, this one is for you – and it’s free.


Will netroots organizations ever develop ballast?
The Future, Now and Then
“First, these organizations are difficult to start. It is much easier to seed a nimble, list-based organization than it is to reach critical mass simultaneously across dozens of locations. Second, these organizations are costly to maintain - less costly than chapter-based organizations in the pre-digital era, but still much more costly than contemporary peers. (And, as I discussed in the previous post in this series, political maintenance is constantly overlooked among progressive donors.)”


Trump’s indictments are having diminishing returns for his political fundraising
“The former president’s fundraising did not spike as high after his second indictment in June compared to his first one in the spring.”

‘This belongs in the Smithsonian’: Inside the meme video operation that swallowed Ron DeSantis’ campaign
“Senior aides to Ron DeSantis oversaw the campaign’s high-risk strategy of laundering incendiary videos produced by their staff through allied anonymous Twitter accounts, a set of internal campaign communications obtained by Semafor reveals.”


The fragmentation election
“The campaign for the American presidency is playing out across an unprecedented, fragmented new media landscape and leaving campaigns, voters, and political observers alike struggling to figure out what exactly is going on.”


I’ve Been On All The Top-Tier Republican Presidential Candidates’ Email Lists For 7 Weeks. Here’s What I’ve Learned.
Reverbal Communications
“I’m not a fan of Nikki Haley. But I do think she’s running the best email program of the candidates we’re tracking. She had the best onboarding series by a mile. While DeSantis sent me one onboarding email, Haley didn’t ask for money until email 5.”


Online and Electronic Voting Updates Across the Globe
Democracy Technologies
“In an era of fast paced digital and political change, the evolution of electronic voting has been a subject of intense interest and debate. In recent years, numerous countries have explored the potential of voting machines (e-voting) or online voting (i-voting), with equally mixed results and opinions. Some have made it a core part of an evolving electoral system, while others have hesitated or reversed course entirely.”

Social Media

How Facebook does (and doesn’t) shape our political views
“By themselves, the findings fail to confirm the arguments of Meta’s worst critics, who hold that the company’s products have played a leading role in the polarization of the United States, putting the democracy at risk. But nor do they suggest that altering the feed in ways some lawmakers have called for — making it chronological rather than ranking posts according to other signals — would have a positive effect.

How do social media feed algorithms affect attitudes and behavior in an election campaign?
“Moving users out of algorithmic feeds substantially decreased the time they spent on the platforms and their activity.”

Facebook’s Algorithm Is ‘Influential’ but Doesn’t Necessarily Change Beliefs, Researchers Say
New York Times
“More than 97 percent of the links to news stories rated as false by fact checkers on the apps during the 2020 election drew more conservative readers than liberal readers, the research found.”

Like-minded sources on Facebook are prevalent but not polarizing
“Here we present data from 2020 for the entire population of active adult Facebook users in the USA showing that content from ‘like-minded’ sources constitutes the majority of what people see on the platform, although political information and news represent only a small fraction of these exposures.”


What to expect the next 18 months
Anchor Change
“The digital tools political parties and campaigns use continue evolving. In the United States, there’s been a shift from social media platforms to streaming services. AI is already being used to generate ads and other fake images. Consultants are excited about using AI to generate speeches and other content at a fraction of the time and cost. Platforms are varied in their approach to political ads - with some banning them altogether. Podcasting - and being on podcasts - is increasingly becoming a part of a candidate’s media strategy.”

The AI Revolution is Canceled
Campaigns & Elections
“The AI Revolution predicted in this publication some two decades ago is canceled. Political and public affairs practitioners have replaced it with little conveniences creeping into our business routines. For example, replacing stock images with Dall-E. Replacing well-paid fundraising and search content writers with ChatGPT. Replacing volunteer phone banks with a chatbot in the candidate’s simulated voice. Flagging potential voter fraud by examining turnout data. Optimizing for better performing digital ads. Generating insights on massive data sets.”

The case for more AI in politics
“The moral panic around AI, especially in politics, is way overblown. The way it’s going to be integrated into this cycle is very mundane, which is like helping write press releases and social media copy, and just speeding up the process as we’re seeing it in any other industry.”