Update: President Trump on Tuesday said that he would be "looking into" a report that his social media chief, Dan Scavino Jr. has been censored by Facebook.
Scavino - who manages several of the president's and White House's social media accounts, reported being blocked from responding to someone's question over the social media platform - asked Facebook "WHY ARE YOU STOPPING ME from replying to comments followers have left me - on my own Facebook Page!!??"
President Trump renewed his criticism of Silicon Valley tech giants on Tuesday, calling Facebook, Google and Twitter "on the side of the Radical Left Democrats."
Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats. But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before! #MAGA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2019
In a Monday Op-Ed for The Hill, Donald Trump Jr. writes: "From “shadowbans” on Facebook and Twitter, to demonetization of YouTube videos, to pulled ads for Republican candidates at the critical junctures of election campaigns, the list of violations against the online practices and speech of conservatives is long."
Trump Jr's op-ed comes the same day that Twitter acknowledged shadowbanning a tweet by The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis. Davis had noted the irony that the FBI was madly scrambling to find ties between President Trump and Russia, while Hillary Clinton paid a guy to collude with Russians on a dossier used as a tool to hurt Trump politically.
Twitter confirmed to me today via e-mail that it did shadowban one of my tweets about Lisa Page's congressional testimony in order to "keep people safe[.]" Twitter deliberately deleted the tweet/URL, yet kept it visible for me when I was logged in so I'd think it was still up. pic.twitter.com/Hs1z7H0xJn— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 18, 2019
Conservatives haven't taken this standing down, however. Also on Monday - California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes sued Twitter and several of its users for more than $250 million. Nunes has accused the social media platform of "shadow-banning conservatives," including himself, in order to influence the 2018 elections.
While President Trump and others have slammed big tech for censorship and bias, his re-election campaign has spent nearly twice as much on Facebook ads as the entire 2020 Democratic field combined.
According to data from Facebook and Google's political ad transparency reports, aggregated by Bully Pulpit Interactive and reported by Axios, Trump has spent $3.5 million on Facebook ads, and $1 million with Google between December 30 2018 and March 10 2019.
All of the 2020 Democratic contenders, meanwhile, have spent just $2.1 million combined over the same period.
"This is an unprecedented level of investment this early, and especially from an incumbent President," says Bully Pulpit partner Mike Schneider - who added that "Trump has spent at least $13 million in digital media since May 2018, and over $4.5 million in 2019 alone."
While Democrats need to woo early donors with proof of momentum, President Trump needs to drive support from his base.
- "The Trump campaign has built a low-dollar fundraising machine that makes hoarding cash less of a priority," says Beach. "Adding votes, whether through persuasion or engagement, trumps cash-on-hand reports.”
- This allows the Trump campaign to focus on spending the money it's been able to accumulate during the past two years, while Democrats like Beto O'Rourke and Bernie Sanders focus their efforts on raising money for big future ads buys.
When it comes to targeting, both parties' campaigns are currently spending most dollars nationally. But their goals and strategies are very different.
- Trump is running a heavy national blanket with small targeted buys in states like Florida.
- Democrats are focused on building a national base of supporters and donors, not early state campaigning yet, according to the data. -Axios
Meanwhile, Trump's big Facebook ad spend comes as the social media giant's reputation took a deep dive over the past year amid an avalanche of controversies.
According to an Axios Harris Poll, while the reputation of left-leaning tech companies has declined in general since the 2016 election, trust in Facebook has dropped considerably more.