“What if Facebook Is the Real ‘Silent Majority’?”

Kevin Roose for the NYT:

Listen, liberals. If you don’t think Donald Trump can get re-elected in November, you need to spend more time on Facebook.

Since the 2016 election, I’ve been obsessively tracking how partisan political content is performing on Facebook, the world’s largest and arguably most influential media platform. Every morning, one of the first browser tabs I open is CrowdTangle — a handy Facebook-owned data tool that offers a bird’s-eye view of what’s popular on the platform. I check which politicians and pundits are going viral. I geek out on trending topics. I browse the previous day’s stories to see which got the most reactions, shares and comments.

Most days, the leader board looks roughly the same: conservative post after conservative post, with the occasional liberal interloper. (If you want to see these lists for yourselves, you can check out @FacebooksTop10, a Twitter account I created that shows the top 10 most-interacted-with link posts by U.S. Facebook pages every day.)

It’s no secret that, despite Mr. Trump’s claims of Silicon Valley censorship, Facebook has been a boon to him and his allies, and hyperpartisan Facebook pages are nothing new. (In fact, my colleague John Herrman wrote about them four years ago this month.)

But what sticks out, when you dig in to the data, is just how dominant the Facebook right truly is. Pro-Trump political influencers have spent years building a well-oiled media machine that swarms around every major news story, creating a torrent of viral commentary that reliably drowns out both the mainstream media and the liberal opposition.

The result is a kind of parallel media universe that left-of-center Facebook users may never encounter, but that has been stunningly effective in shaping its own version of reality. Inside the right-wing Facebook bubble, President Trump’s response to Covid-19 has been strong and effective, Joe Biden is barely capable of forming sentences, and Black Lives Matter is a dangerous group of violent looters.

Share

Comments are closed.