Facebook recently announced that it will no longer be sending employees to assist political campaigns ahead of elections as it did in 2016.
Reuters reports that despite companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter offering free on-site support to major ad buyers — such as political campaigns — for years, the company will no longer be offering dedicated support to political campaigns following the 2016 Presidential election.
Brad Parscale, President Trump’s digital media director for the 2016 campaign and campaign manager for the 2020 reelection campaign, stated that the on-site Facebook “embeds” were crucial to Trump’s victory in the election. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, was offered similar help from Facebook but chose to take a diminished level of assistance from the social media firm.
Now, Facebook has decided that on-site support will no longer be provided, rather an online portal will be created where political organizations can contact Facebook employees and receive instructions on how to use the platform or have advertisements approved.
This could be a blow to future political campaigns attempting to use social media to reach an audience. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Utah found in a research paper published last year that social media firms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google acted as “quasi-digital consultants” during the 2016 elections.
According to the report, the Silicon Valley tech firms helped campaigns navigate their advertising systems and actively shaped campaign communication strategies, often suggesting who campaigns should direct messages to, etc.
Former Alphabet and Google CEO Eric Schmidt allegedly wanted to act as “head outside adviser” to the Clinton campaign according to leaked emails from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta.