Facebook to Give Less Direct Support to Trump in 2020 Campaign
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. said that for future presidential campaigns, it will pull back from the kind of on-site support it gave Donald Trump for his 2016 presidential race -- a relationship that came under scrutiny by Congress.
The company will still offer technical support and basic training to candidate campaigns and political advocacy organizations, but it won’t visit campaign headquarters with as much frequency or provide as much strategic support as it did for Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Instead, Facebook officials said they are working to improve the company’s political advertising website to give free advice to campaigns more broadly.
The social network was forced to answer questions from U.S. lawmakers about whether it was more supportive of Trump than his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, after Brad Parscale, the Republican’s 2016 digital director, said he was able to get pro-Trump “embeds” from Facebook to help him on strategy. The extra help was crucial to Trump’s win, Parscale told the CBS news show “60 Minutes.”
Facebook told Congress it “offered identical support” to both campaigns. Trump’s campaign accepted, and Clinton’s didn’t. At the time, the company also disputed the use of the word “embed” to describe the relationship.
In an internal company analysis, obtained by Bloomberg earlier this year, a Facebook data scientist explained that Trump’s effort was “more complex than Clinton’s and better leveraged Facebook’s ability to optimize for outcomes.” The report cited $44 million in ad purchases by the Trump campaign from June to November 2016, compared with $28 million by Clinton.
It’s unclear whether Trump will use a similar strategy for the 2020 campaign, which is now being run by Parscale. The campaign is not currently working as closely with Facebook as it did in 2016, though it hasn’t ruled out the possibility, according to a person familiar with Trump’s strategy.
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