Members of Congress have reportedly been angered by changes to Facebook’s algorithm which have seen their pages receive less reach on the platform.
Members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle are reportedly upset about recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm, according to VICE News. Recent changes to how Facebook delivers content saw the prioritization of posts from friends and family over those of news publishers and other Facebook pages, this has caused a drop in reach for many members of Congress that use the platform to convey their political messages.
Josh Miller-Lewis, the communications director for Bernie Sanders, discussed how the new algorithm has affected the Democratic Senators page saying: “Our numbers just dove. They made a decision to prioritize individual Facebook profiles over pages, but that also reduces politicians’ ability to communicate with their constituents, which is a role Facebook sees itself fulfilling.”
Facebook has however made efforts to increase the political use of their platform with programs such as Town Hall which allows constituents to contact their local, state and federal government representatives. Other tools such as Constituents Badges and District Insights allow politicians to gain a greater understanding of their constituents, according to Facebook. Despite these new programs, ten different offices in the House and the Senate described their Facebook page reach to VICE as “flatlining,” “plummeting,” and “crashing.”
The below chart from Newswhip shows the decline in Facebook interaction for Congressional pages:
A Facebook spokesperson commented on the decline saying: “We updated News Feed to help people meaningfully connect with friends and family first. As News Feed prioritizes posts from friends, it means public pages of all types are more likely to experience declines.” Republican digital consultant Eric Wilson noted that the sudden decline in page reach was affecting both liberal and conservative politicians equally. “Organic reach has gone down. The rain seems to be falling on conservatives and liberals, affecting both of them equally.”
Wilson further called on Facebook to provide more transparency: “One of the things they need to do is be more transparent. If you saw that all 535 congressional offices saw a 10 to 20 percent dip, it would make everyone feel better. If you leave it open to conspiracy theories and anecdotal, then you leave yourself open to this.”