While Facebook grapples both internally and externally with its role in the election’s outcome, the Trump campaign is publicly singing the social network’s praises.
Saturday afternoon, Gary Coby, an RNC staffer and Trump campaign fundraiser tweeted that Facebook was instrumental in the Trump campaign’s fundraising success. Coby singled out James Barnes, a client solutions manager for Facebook in Washington, D.C. as an “MVP” of the election.
Coby’s tweets suggest that Facebook’s “multivariate” ad targeting for fundraising allowed the campaign to identify the best messaging for Trump — a tactic that ultimately resulted in more policy-focused speeches on the trail.
“Facebook provided a critical role of finding new potential donors and moving them over to our donor database,” Trump campaign digital director, Brad Parscale, told BuzzFeed News. “Facebook was the single most important platform to help grow our fundraising base.”
Advertising targeting services for political campaigns are not a new offering for Facebook — the company provided similar services for the Clinton campaign this election cycle and does not discriminate against political parties or organizations that approach the social network. The Trump campaign’s ad buys are public and were touted by Coby this August, when the campaign used Facebook to help raise $90 million that month.
When asked to elaborate on Barnes’ role in the company, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that Barnes is an employee.
However, the Trump campaign’s public embrace of Facebook comes at a tense moment for the social network, which has come under fire for its involvement in the 2016 campaign.
Allegations that a flood of fake, pro-Trump news helped influence the electorate and contribute to Trump’s victory forced CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to defend the network’s role. “I think the idea that fake news on Facebook — of which it’s a very small amount of the content — influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” he told a crowd at the Techonomy conference on Thursday evening.
Inside Facebook, the reckoning is more nuanced; according to the New York Times, employees were “dissatisfied” with Zuckerberg’s statement following a company meeting on Thursday. Meanwhile, former employees have publicly voiced their concern about Facebook’s influence. On Wednesday a former product designer at the company called argued that the election “must be a wake up call” and “is a clear mandate to act.”
When it comes to its business though, Facebook refuses to draw lines. When asked if the company would allow fringe and nationalist political parties like the British National Party, the Front National in France, or a neo-Nazi political organization, the company said that the it would not discriminate as long as the campaign’s activities did not violate Facebook’s published community standards.
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