An anonymous Facebook exec says ‘right-wing populism is always more engaging’ and that’s why conservative posts thrive on the platform
September 27, 2020 | technology | No Comments
- An anonymous Facebook executive said conservatives’ success on the platform is due to having content that is “always more engaging,” according to a Politico report.
- Politico reported that the executive, who identifies as a “center-left progressive” said the right’s focus on “nation, protection, the other, anger, fear” has always been an effective tactic, pointing to the 1930s.
- The comments come as Facebook has been criticized by the right and left for having a political bias, with social media platforms drawing attention from both President Trump and Joe Biden.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
An anonymous Facebook executive told Politico that right-wing pages see more engagement because of their emotional pull, instead of the platform’s algorithm, according to a report published Friday.
The publication reported that the executive said that “right-wing populism is always more engaging,” because of its focus on “nation, protection, the other, anger, fear” — the same dynamic present in the 1930’s, the executive told Politico.
“This wasn’t invented 15 years ago when Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook,” Politico reported the executive said.
Facebook hasn’t responded to a Business Insider request for comment at the time of publication.
In July, data from the Facebook’s internal metrics tool CrowdTangle showed that all five of the site’s top-performing posts came from pages for Fox News and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
The data assessed “engagement” or the total number of likes, comments and shares a post received, prompting Facebook’s head of News Feed John Hegeman to respond that a more apt metric would be “reach,” or total number of people who saw a link in their news feed. Facebook doesn’t publish “reach” numbers, but Hegeman shared data that showed that reach favored more traditional non-partisan outlets.
The anonymous Facebook executive, who identified as “a center-left progressive,” said the left’s debate about how to engage their supporters is “as old as the hills,” and predates the company.
“All center-left campaigners and politicians always ask themselves, ‘Why can’t [we] seem to rile their supporters as much as right-wing populists have?'” Politico reported the executive said.
A Business Insider investigation from September tracked the ways in which the social media site has become a haven for conservatives.
In recent months, the tech platform has been intensely criticized by prominent Democrats and Republicans for political bias. During the Democratic presidential primary, former Vice President Joe Biden told the New York Times Editorial Board that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a “real problem.”
“He knows better,” Biden said.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump spoke with a group of nine state Attorney Generals, Senator Josh Hawley, and Attorney General Bill Bar, about taking “concrete legal steps” to prevent social media platforms from censoring conservative users.
“At the urging of the radical left, these platforms have become intolerant of diverse political views and abusive toward their own users,” President Trump said.
Trump singled out Twitter for restricting his own tweets, as the platform has added notices to some of his tweets that contain misinformation about voting.
In May of this year, Trump signed an executive order threatening to penalize social-media companies for bias against right-wing users.
Video: Facebook claims to have helped 2.5 million people register to vote so far this year (Fox Business)