Facebook advertising algorithm may have given the GOP a social media edge over the Democratic Party: report

Facebook advertising algorithm may have given the GOP a social media edge over the Democratic Party: report
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Anthony Quintano

Facebook pages run by state and local level Republican Parties appear to have received more exposure and engagement than the same types of pages belonging to the Democratic Party, new research finds.

On Wednesday, June 8, research was made public highlighting an apparent "gap in engagement growth 'unique to Facebook' between the GOP pages and their Democratic counterparts by 2019."

According to HuffPost, the findings also noted a distinct difference in the level of engagement for posts shared by both parties. Posts shared by local Republican Parties had “a doubling of the total shares” compared to Democratic posts.

The authors of the study also weighed in with more details about their findings.

“Regardless of Facebook’s motivations, their decision to change the algorithm might have given local Republican parties greater reach to connect with citizens and shape political realities for Americans,” the research authors noted.

"The fact that private companies can so easily control the political information flow for millions of Americans raises clear questions for the state of democracy," they added.

Kevin Reuning, an associate professor at Miami University who also co-authored the study, took to Twitter with visual representations of their findings. With the visual, he tweeted about the "weird patterns" in the data.

"In 2018, local Republican parties on facebook started to receive substantially more attention than local Democratic parties did," he tweeted.

In response to the research data reports, Meta spokesperson Dani Lever pushed back arguing the data “'doesn’t add up' to what Facebook’s 2018 change to prioritize 'meaningful social interactions' actually did for the platform," per HuffPost.

Writing to NBC News, Lever wrote, “The trends here instead seem to coincide with a divisive election cycle, and since the differences between political parties in the U.S. have been growing for decades, the idea that a change to Facebook ranking would fundamentally shift how people choose to engage with political parties is implausible."

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