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Westlake Legal Group > Political Advertising

Why Everyone Is Angry at Facebook Over Its Political Ads Policy

Westlake Legal Group 22facebook-facebookJumbo Why Everyone Is Angry at Facebook Over Its Political Ads Policy Zuckerberg, Mark E United States Politics and Government Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Online Advertising Facebook Inc Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — After Google announced restrictions on political advertising this week, campaign strategists in Washington quickly turned their attention to a different company: Facebook.

Some strategists voiced concerns to Facebook about how Google’s decision would affect it, said two people who talked to the company. They told Facebook that if it followed Google by limiting how political campaigns target audiences, it would hurt their ability to reach unregistered voters and make it tougher for smaller organizations to collect donations online, the people said.

The conversations added to the pressure on Facebook as it weighs how to handle political advertising. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, has made it clear that Facebook will run all political ads — even if they contain lies — in the interest of free speech. But the social network is discussing some ad changes, like restricting how precisely campaigns can reach specific groups, said three people briefed by the company.

Facebook has made no final ruling on its political advertising guidelines, said the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions were confidential. On Thursday at a happy hour discussion with roughly 500 digital strategists, campaign officials and political operatives at Facebook’s offices in Washington, company executives were adamant that they would not make any news about political ads, said two people who attended the event.

But Facebook risks being whipsawed by its indecision, especially since Google and Twitter have already rolled out revised political advertising policies ahead of the 2020 American presidential election.

“Twitter fired the starting gun, and Google just cranked it up to 11,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital advertising strategist. “Now the pressure is on Facebook — they’re going to have to act.”

Political advertising on social media and internet platforms has become particularly fraught in this election cycle because of how campaigns increasingly rely on the digital channels to spread their messages and reach voters. Yet few companies are getting caught in that fray as much as Facebook.

On the one hand, the company wants to curtail the spread of disinformation across its site. At the same time, it wants to avoid alienating the groups and candidates who depend on its platform for fund-raising and organizing. So in trying to find a way to please everyone on the issue, Facebook has managed to please no one.

The social network has now become an outlier in how freely it lets political candidates and elected officials advertise on its platform. While Mr. Zuckerberg declared last month that Facebook would not police political ads, Twitter said it would ban all such ads because of their negative impact on civic discourse. On Wednesday, Google said it would no longer allow political ads to be directed to specific audiences based on people’s public voter records or political affiliations.

“As we’ve said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

The pressure on Facebook over what to do about political ad targeting has been unrelenting. Organizations on both sides of the political aisle — from as large as President Trump’s re-election campaign to smaller, grass-roots groups — have tried to persuade Facebook not to rein in the ad targeting.

“Making major changes to platform ad targeting would severely disadvantage Democrats and progressives who rely on Facebook for fund-raising and currently have a much smaller organic audience and current database of supporters to engage on and off the platform than Donald Trump,” said Tara McGowan, founder and chief executive of Acronym, a progressive nonprofit group.

Some Republican strategists said they also feared losing the ability to raise significant campaign donations online if Facebook reduced ad targeting.

The company has been contacting ad buyers and advocacy groups for feedback on what changes to political ads, if any, they could stomach. In one recent call with political advertising groups, Facebook said it was considering some tweaks, such as the possibility of raising the minimum number of people who could be targeted to 1,000 from 100, according to two people familiar with the discussion. The potential change was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook also is updating and refining its advertising library, a collection of current and past ads that were paid for by political candidates, in an effort to increase transparency, the people said.

On Thursday at Facebook’s Washington event with digital strategists and campaign officials, executives ticked through their current ad policies for 90 minutes, before breaking for a question-and-answer period that lasted roughly 15 minutes.

Despite Facebook’s pledge that it would not announce any new ad policies, those in attendance tried to pry out some information, said two people who were there. One member of the Trump campaign asked if Facebook was considering eliminating certain data and the ability to reach specific audiences. Facebook said it welcomed all feedback and was considering all the issues.

Another questioner professed hope that Facebook would not follow in Google’s footsteps, said the attendees. Facebook officials reiterated that they would not be making any news.

When asked if the social network would treat Democrats and Republicans equally in the 2020 elections, though, Facebook officials were quick to respond.

Their answer: Yes, everyone will be treated the same, the attendees said.

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from New York.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Campaigns Pressure Facebook to Stay Put on Political Ads

Westlake Legal Group 22facebook-facebookJumbo Campaigns Pressure Facebook to Stay Put on Political Ads Zuckerberg, Mark E United States Politics and Government Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Online Advertising Facebook Inc Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — After Google announced restrictions on political advertising this week, campaign strategists in Washington quickly turned their attention to a different company: Facebook.

Some strategists voiced concerns to Facebook about how Google’s decision would affect it, said two people who talked to the company. They told Facebook that if it followed Google by limiting how political campaigns target audiences, it would hurt their ability to reach unregistered voters and make it tougher for smaller organizations to collect donations online, the people said.

The conversations added to the pressure on Facebook as it weighs how to handle political advertising. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, has made it clear that Facebook will run all political ads — even if they contain lies — in the interest of free speech. But the social network is discussing some ad changes, like restricting how precisely campaigns can reach specific groups, said three people briefed by the company.

Facebook has made no final ruling on its political advertising guidelines, said the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions were confidential. On Thursday at a happy hour discussion with roughly 500 digital strategists, campaign officials and political operatives at Facebook’s offices in Washington, company executives were adamant that they would not make any news about political ads, said two people who attended the event.

But Facebook risks being whipsawed by its indecision, especially since Google and Twitter have already rolled out revised political advertising policies ahead of the 2020 American presidential election.

“Twitter fired the starting gun, and Google just cranked it up to 11,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital advertising strategist. “Now the pressure is on Facebook — they’re going to have to act.”

Political advertising on social media and internet platforms has become particularly fraught in this election cycle because of how campaigns increasingly rely on the digital channels to spread their messages and reach voters. Yet few companies are getting caught in that fray as much as Facebook.

On the one hand, the company wants to curtail the spread of disinformation across its site. At the same time, it wants to avoid alienating the groups and candidates who depend on its platform for fund-raising and organizing. So in trying to find a way to please everyone on the issue, Facebook has managed to please no one.

The social network has now become an outlier in how freely it lets political candidates and elected officials advertise on its platform. While Mr. Zuckerberg declared last month that Facebook would not police political ads, Twitter said it would ban all such ads because of their negative impact on civic discourse. On Wednesday, Google said it would no longer allow political ads to be directed to specific audiences based on people’s public voter records or political affiliations.

“As we’ve said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

The pressure on Facebook over what to do about political ad targeting has been unrelenting. Organizations on both sides of the political aisle — from as large as President Trump’s re-election campaign to smaller, grass-roots groups — have tried to persuade Facebook not to rein in the ad targeting.

“Making major changes to platform ad targeting would severely disadvantage Democrats and progressives who rely on Facebook for fund-raising and currently have a much smaller organic audience and current database of supporters to engage on and off the platform than Donald Trump,” said Tara McGowan, founder and chief executive of Acronym, a progressive nonprofit group.

Some Republican strategists said they also feared losing the ability to raise significant campaign donations online if Facebook reduced ad targeting.

The company has been contacting ad buyers and advocacy groups for feedback on what changes to political ads, if any, they could stomach. In one recent call with political advertising groups, Facebook said it was considering some tweaks, such as the possibility of raising the minimum number of people who could be targeted to 1,000 from 100, according to two people familiar with the discussion. The potential change was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook also is updating and refining its advertising library, a collection of current and past ads that were paid for by political candidates, in an effort to increase transparency, the people said.

On Thursday at Facebook’s Washington event with digital strategists and campaign officials, executives ticked through their current ad policies for 90 minutes, before breaking for a question-and-answer period that lasted roughly 15 minutes.

Despite Facebook’s pledge that it would not announce any new ad policies, those in attendance tried to pry out some information, said two people who were there. One member of the Trump campaign asked if Facebook was considering eliminating certain data and the ability to reach specific audiences. Facebook said it welcomed all feedback and was considering all the issues.

Another questioner professed hope that Facebook would not follow in Google’s footsteps, said the attendees. Facebook officials reiterated that they would not be making any news.

When asked if the social network would treat Democrats and Republicans equally in the 2020 elections, though, Facebook officials were quick to respond.

Their answer: Yes, everyone will be treated the same, the attendees said.

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from New York.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Campaigns Pressure Facebook to Stay Put on Political Ads

Westlake Legal Group 22facebook-facebookJumbo Campaigns Pressure Facebook to Stay Put on Political Ads Zuckerberg, Mark E United States Politics and Government Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Online Advertising Facebook Inc Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — After Google announced restrictions on political advertising this week, campaign strategists in Washington quickly turned their attention to a different company: Facebook.

Some strategists voiced concerns to Facebook about how Google’s decision would affect it, said two people who talked to the company. They told Facebook that if it followed Google by limiting how political campaigns target audiences, it would hurt their ability to reach unregistered voters and make it tougher for smaller organizations to collect donations online, the people said.

The conversations added to the pressure on Facebook as it weighs how to handle political advertising. Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, has made it clear that Facebook will run all political ads — even if they contain lies — in the interest of free speech. But the social network is discussing some ad changes, like restricting how precisely campaigns can reach specific groups, said three people briefed by the company.

Facebook has made no final ruling on its political advertising guidelines, said the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions were confidential. On Thursday at a happy hour discussion with roughly 500 digital strategists, campaign officials and political operatives at Facebook’s offices in Washington, company executives were adamant that they would not make any news about political ads, said two people who attended the event.

But Facebook risks being whipsawed by its indecision, especially since Google and Twitter have already rolled out revised political advertising policies ahead of the 2020 American presidential election.

“Twitter fired the starting gun, and Google just cranked it up to 11,” said Eric Wilson, a Republican digital advertising strategist. “Now the pressure is on Facebook — they’re going to have to act.”

Political advertising on social media and internet platforms has become particularly fraught in this election cycle because of how campaigns increasingly rely on the digital channels to spread their messages and reach voters. Yet few companies are getting caught in that fray as much as Facebook.

On the one hand, the company wants to curtail the spread of disinformation across its site. At the same time, it wants to avoid alienating the groups and candidates who depend on its platform for fund-raising and organizing. So in trying to find a way to please everyone on the issue, Facebook has managed to please no one.

The social network has now become an outlier in how freely it lets political candidates and elected officials advertise on its platform. While Mr. Zuckerberg declared last month that Facebook would not police political ads, Twitter said it would ban all such ads because of their negative impact on civic discourse. On Wednesday, Google said it would no longer allow political ads to be directed to specific audiences based on people’s public voter records or political affiliations.

“As we’ve said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

The pressure on Facebook over what to do about political ad targeting has been unrelenting. Organizations on both sides of the political aisle — from as large as President Trump’s re-election campaign to smaller, grass-roots groups — have tried to persuade Facebook not to rein in the ad targeting.

“Making major changes to platform ad targeting would severely disadvantage Democrats and progressives who rely on Facebook for fund-raising and currently have a much smaller organic audience and current database of supporters to engage on and off the platform than Donald Trump,” said Tara McGowan, founder and chief executive of Acronym, a progressive nonprofit group.

Some Republican strategists said they also feared losing the ability to raise significant campaign donations online if Facebook reduced ad targeting.

The company has been contacting ad buyers and advocacy groups for feedback on what changes to political ads, if any, they could stomach. In one recent call with political advertising groups, Facebook said it was considering some tweaks, such as the possibility of raising the minimum number of people who could be targeted to 1,000 from 100, according to two people familiar with the discussion. The potential change was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook also is updating and refining its advertising library, a collection of current and past ads that were paid for by political candidates, in an effort to increase transparency, the people said.

On Thursday at Facebook’s Washington event with digital strategists and campaign officials, executives ticked through their current ad policies for 90 minutes, before breaking for a question-and-answer period that lasted roughly 15 minutes.

Despite Facebook’s pledge that it would not announce any new ad policies, those in attendance tried to pry out some information, said two people who were there. One member of the Trump campaign asked if Facebook was considering eliminating certain data and the ability to reach specific audiences. Facebook said it welcomed all feedback and was considering all the issues.

Another questioner professed hope that Facebook would not follow in Google’s footsteps, said the attendees. Facebook officials reiterated that they would not be making any news.

When asked if the social network would treat Democrats and Republicans equally in the 2020 elections, though, Facebook officials were quick to respond.

Their answer: Yes, everyone will be treated the same, the attendees said.

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from New York.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Campaigns Say Google Ad Policy Sidesteps Problem of Disinformation

Westlake Legal Group 21googleads-facebookJumbo Campaigns Say Google Ad Policy Sidesteps Problem of Disinformation twitter Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Online Advertising Google Inc Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet Campaign Finance

Google’s new restrictions on political advertising, following an outright ban on such ads by Twitter, amount to a one-two punch on 2020 campaigns: The online platforms are creating a big new headache for them, while failing to address a different problem they fear most.

The decision to limit campaigns from targeting users based on political affiliation or voter record, which Google announced Wednesday night, was aimed at addressing concerns about invasion of privacy and the exploitation of voters through hyperspecific targeting.

But the policy will most likely have little impact on the thornier challenge of disinformation, which campaigns and cybersecurity experts say will be the more urgent problem facing the major social media platforms during the 2020 election.

Google’s new policy restricts a tactic — microtargeting of voters — that campaigns heavily rely on, while not aggressively addressing misinformation.

Modern disinformation campaigns that have plagued other global elections like those in the Philippines have not relied heavily on using targeted advertising. Instead, they have focused on creating so-called organic content — trolls posing as ordinary users on sites like Facebook initiate charged discussions, then amplify them through both human and automated networks to sow division and spread falsehoods.

These posts draw far more views than ads on sites like Google and Twitter. Restricting targeted ads, campaigns and experts say, eliminates a crucial tool candidates use to reach voters, but retains a system that hackers and trolls have proved adept at exploiting and that social media sites struggle to adequately police.

“It’s outrageous,” said Tara McGowan, the chief executive and founder of Acronym, a new Democratic super PAC. “Instead of monitoring and taking responsibility for the spread of misinformation on their platforms, Google has chosen to pursue a disingenuous and frankly dangerous shift in their policies so they can claim publicly to be serious about the problem.

“This change won’t curb disinformation,” she added in a text message, “but it will hinder campaigns and (others) who are already working against the tide against bad actors to reach voters with facts.”

On Thursday, two separate groups of digital strategists — a bipartisan coalition from the University of Chicago, and a group of roughly 40 Democratic and progressive strategists — released letters criticizing Google’s new policy. The letters, which were obtained by The New York Times, both fault Google for not adequately addressing disinformation.

“Policy changes by Google, other platforms, and regulators should focus on curtailing bad actors and stopping disinformation,” wrote the digital group from the University of Chicago. “Policy changes designed to limit legitimate political communications and dialogue are not the right approach for a democratic society.”

Google does have policies designed to combat misinformation, and in February it published an extensive white paper on the subject. The policy announced on Wednesday did also state that Google was willing to take down false ads, something Facebook has not been willing to do.

Officials at Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

There are numerous examples of how difficult it is to enforce misinformation policies on such a massive platform. Political operatives and campaigns have maintained that the announcement by Google is a halfhearted attempt to address the underlying issues plaguing political discourse on social media, an issue that has made tech companies a target of withering criticism from Congress, advocacy groups and some Democratic 2020 candidates.

A quick search on YouTube for Senator Kamala Harris, for instance, turns up dozens of videos that are spreading the lie that Ms. Harris isn’t an American citizen, including some with more than 100,000 views. None of these videos are ads.

“Tech companies have a responsibility to combat disinformation, and when their platforms are being abused to promote demonstrable lies, fabrications and racist attacks — some of which could lead to violence — it requires more than Band-Aids,” said Ian Sams, the communications director for Ms. Harris. “This is a fundamental problem that threatens our democracy, and what we’ve seen so far isn’t enough.”

Though Google had sent signals that important changes were coming to the platform, the announcement still sent shock waves through the presidential campaigns. Five Democratic and Republican campaigns all said they were taken aback, especially since employees from Google had been visiting the headquarters of multiple presidential campaigns in recent months, pitching them on their suite of advertising packages and targeting tools.

In 2019 alone, political campaigns and outside groups have spent $44.8 million on Google’s suite of ad platforms, according to Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm.

Search ads on Google and other platforms are an essential tool for building and increasing small-dollar donations, an important cash source in a year when reaching voters digitally has become more important than ever. The ads are also an increasingly vital tool to remaining on the debate stage, as the Democratic National Committee continues to raise the threshold of individual donors to qualify for future debates.

“Broad targeting kills fund-raising efficiency,” said Rob Flaherty, former digital director for Beto O’Rourke.

“If you can’t use ads to target potential donors based on your own donor data, it’s going to hurt the ability to build a list,” Mr. Flaherty added. “And if you hurt the ability to build a list, you hurt the efficiency of email fund-raising. Everyone thinks about this as a solution to fix scary persuasion ads, but most of digital ad spend is about raising money.”

The decision will also most likely make advertising on Google more expensive and less efficient, a change critics argued would hurt smaller campaigns and down-ballot candidates who do not have the war chests of large Democratic presidential campaigns.

It also removes the ability of campaigns to “re-market” ads, meaning advertising to people who had previously visited their website, an important feature to campaigns. That change is intended to address the privacy concerns that emerged after the 2016 election, most dramatically with Facebook.

Indeed, looming over the announcement from Google is a pending decision from Facebook on whether it, too, would begin to restrict political campaigns from certain aspects of its advertising platform. Facebook is by far the most popular advertising platform in politics, and presidential campaigns have spent more than $60 million during this cycle alone.

The mere hint of changes was enough to ignite the Trump campaign to an aggressive public response on Wednesday night, accusing Facebook’s decision of being more rooted in the company’s financial bottom line.

The policy announcement was praised, however, by Ellen L. Weintraub, the chair of the Federal Election Commission.

“@Google’s plan to eliminate #microtargeting is a move that – if done right – could help make internet political advertising a force that informs and inspires us, rather than isolating and inflaming us,” Ms. Weintraub wrote in a series of Tweets on Thursday.

Some digital strategists also welcomed the policy changes from Google, noting that restricting the microtargeting would cause more ads to be seen by more people, therefore most likely diluting the effect of the more insidious types of messaging.

“What they’re getting at is a lot of the shadiest stuff goes unnoticed because it’s hard to see what’s happening,” said Michael Slaby, a Democratic digital strategist. “Because now you have to buy in larger groups, it’s less easy for someone to just say, ‘Let’s put these voter suppression ads in front of all the African-American voters in Milwaukee.’”

“I think their hope is that with more visibility, people will be less bad actors,” he said.

But David Goldstein, the chief executive of Tovo Labs, a Democratic digital consulting firm in New York, said Google had simply created a new problem. The company, he said, now faces the question of “how will it discern a political versus nonpolitical advertisers?”

“Unless they’re absolutely ruthless, it’ll be a cinch to get around,” he added.

Identifying a campaign ad and restricting how it is targeted will not be a problem. “But PACs? Is that political or ‘issue-based’? And what if I just use an LLC to push political content?” Mr. Goldstein asked. “Are they going to start aggressively regulating content? That’s almost impossible to imagine.”

Nonetheless, those who have been looking for platforms to take a proactive approach considered the policy from Google to be a good opening policy, so long as it wasn’t the only one.

“I think it’s a good first step,” Mr. Slaby said. “I think if there’s no second step, I’m going to be pretty disappointed that they thought this was the magical switch they could flip.”

Shane Goldmacher contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

What Ads Are Political? Twitter Struggles With a Definition

Westlake Legal Group 15twitter01-facebookJumbo What Ads Are Political? Twitter Struggles With a Definition United States Politics and Government twitter Social Media Politics and Government Political Advertising Online Advertising Dorsey, Jack Corporate Social Responsibility Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — The Alzheimer’s Association, a health care advocacy group, recently spent $84,000 on ad campaigns on Twitter. One campaign had a singular purpose: to persuade people to ask Congress for larger investments in medical research for the disease.

Now the nonprofit is worried about whether those messages will still fly. That’s because Twitter announced last month that it would soon prohibit all political ads from its platform — and, depending on whom you ask, pushing lawmakers for money for medical research could be seen as a political cause.

The Alzheimer’s Association was so concerned that it contacted Twitter this month to express misgivings about the political ads ban. “We’re not really sure how it’s going to impact us,” said Mike Lynch, a spokesman for the group. “A lot of what we do is issue advertising, so it really depends on how they define political advertising.”

The Alzheimer’s Association is one of many nonprofits and organizations that have put pressure on Twitter over its prohibition of political ads, which is set to start next Friday. The problem is that while campaign ads from candidates are clearly political, other messages that deal with hot-button issues such as abortion, school choice and climate change may or may not cross that line.

That has set off a scramble within Twitter to define what constitutes a political ad. Twitter’s advertising executives have held meetings in Washington with public relations and free speech groups to debate the situation. And the company has fended off public criticism about the ban, including from Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat from Massachusetts who is running for president. Last week, Ms. Warren said Twitter’s new ad policy would prevent climate advocacy groups from holding corporations accountable.

On Friday, after weeks of discussions, Twitter rolled out a formal definition of what it considers to be a political ad. Under the official policy, Twitter said ads that discuss elections, candidates, parties and other overtly political content would be prohibited. For ads that refer to causes generally and that are placed by organizations and not politicians or political candidates, Twitter said it would place restrictions on them but not ban them outright.

The restrictions included removing advertisers’ ability to target specific audiences, a practice known as “micro targeting.” The ads also cannot mention specific legislation, Twitter said.

“It’s a big change for us as a company but one we believe is going to make our service, and political advertising in the world, better,” Vijaya Gadde, who leads Twitter’s legal, policy, trust and safety divisions, said in a call on Friday to introduce the policy.

Twitter’s unveiling of its political ads policy did little to mollify its critics, such as conservatives who have said the barring of such ads is an attempt to suppress right-wing voices.

“Whatever they come up with, we fully expect Twitter to continue to censor, block, or to incur ‘bugs’ that will unfairly silence President Trump and conservatives,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director.

Some super PACs and political groups said Twitter’s decision disrupted the political advertising strategy and budget they had already mapped out for the 2020 election.

“Changing the rules halfway through is really dangerous,” said Danielle Butterfield, the director of paid media for Priorities USA, one of the largest Democratic super PACs. “A lot of organizations are going to have to look back at their strategy and figure out how to adjust, especially in the middle of the cycle.”

She said her group had used ads on Twitter to flag stories about the economy under the Trump administration to local reporters in swing states, a key part of its in-state strategy.

Twitter finds itself in a delicate situation because its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, decided last month that the social media service would no longer host political ads. In a series of tweets on Oct. 30, Mr. Dorsey said political ads presented challenges to civic discourse and added that he believed the reach of political messages “should be earned, not bought.”

His declaration contrasted with that of Twitter’s rival, Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said last month that he planned to allow political ads on the social network — even if they are inaccurate or contain lies — because such ads are newsworthy and should remain for free speech reasons. Ms. Warren and others have pilloried Mr. Zuckerberg for his stance, saying he is running a “disinformation-for-profit machine.”

Mr. Dorsey, though, was immediately praised by politicians — including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York — for taking a stand against political ads.

At the time, Mr. Dorsey defined political ads as those sponsored by candidates or that discussed political issues. He said some ads, such as those promoting voter registration, would be permitted as exceptions. Mr. Dorsey, who has since been traveling in Africa, was unavailable for comment on Friday.

His pronouncements quickly kicked up a ruckus among nonprofits, lobbyists and others, who said they feared they would no longer be able to run issue-based ads on Twitter because it was unclear if their messages would be considered political.

“The policy would tilt the playing field,” said Eric Pooley, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental advocacy group. “Nonprofit organizations need to be able to communicate to the public. That’s what we do.”

The American Federation for Children, a school choice advocacy group, said that Mr. Dorsey’s announcement had created uncertainties and that it was being unfairly swept up in Twitter’s efforts to clean up its platform. Affiliates of Planned Parenthood added that they already struggled to get ads approved on social media and worried about a ban.

“Digital advertisement is a cost-effective way for small nonprofits to reach their audience. The question becomes, where do we turn next?” said Emma Corbett, the communications director of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, which represents Planned Parenthood in New York State.

Twitter said it held discussions about the policy with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Affairs Council, a nonpartisan organization that advises companies on their lobbying and digital advocacy efforts, last week.

Nick DeSarno, the director of digital and policy communications at the Public Affairs Council, said Twitter was trying to split the difference between limiting politicians from placing ads while allowing advocacy organizations to continue raising awareness about political topics.

“While Twitter’s potential new issues ads policy is more permissive than a total ban, it’s still going to be a challenge for groups who are trying to drive political or legislative change using the platform,” he said.

Twitter’s limitations on targeted ads will prevent advertisers from sending political messages to residents of specific ZIP codes or cities; instead, they can broadcast their content only at a state level. The company said it would also prevent advertisers from targeting their messages based on political leanings or interests of users such as “conservative,” “liberal” or “political elections.”

“We very much believe that cause-based advertising has value, and can help drive public conversation around important topics,” said Del Harvey, the vice president of trust and safety at Twitter. “But we still don’t think it should be used with the sort of primary goal of driving political or judicial or legislative or regulatory outcomes.”

Nick Corasaniti contributed reporting from New York.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Dissent Erupts at Facebook Over Hands-Off Stance on Political Ads

Westlake Legal Group merlin_163177695_a8bcff7f-50cb-4cb9-b101-3862aadda7ac-facebookJumbo Dissent Erupts at Facebook Over Hands-Off Stance on Political Ads Zuckerberg, Mark E United States Politics and Government Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Political Advertising Online Advertising Freedom of Speech and Expression Facebook Inc Computers and the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO — The letter was aimed at Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his top lieutenants. It decried the social network’s recent decision to let politicians post any claims they wanted — even false ones — in ads on the site. It asked Facebook’s leaders to rethink the stance.

Facebook’s position on political advertising is “a threat to what FB stands for,” said the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. “We strongly object to this policy as it stands.”

The message was written by Facebook’s own employees. For the past two weeks, the text has been publicly visible on Facebook Workplace, a software program that the Silicon Valley company uses to communicate internally. More than 250 employees have signed the letter, according to three people who have seen it and who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation.

While the number of signatures on the letter was a fraction of Facebook’s 35,000-plus work force, it was one sign of the resistance that the company is now facing internally over how it treats political ads.

Many employees have been discussing Mr. Zuckerberg’s decision to let politicians post anything they want in Facebook ads because those ads can go viral and spread misinformation widely. The worker dissatisfaction has spilled out across winding, heated threads on Facebook Workplace, the people said.

For weeks, Facebook has been under attack by presidential candidates, lawmakers and civil rights groups over its position on political ads. But the employee actions — which are a rare moment of internal strife for the company — show that even some of its own workers are not convinced the political ads policy is sound. The dissent is adding to Facebook’s woes as it heads into the 2020 presidential election season.

“Facebook’s culture is built on openness, so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic,” Bertie Thomson, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”

Facebook has been struggling to respond to misinformation on its site since the 2016 presidential election, when Russians used the social network to spread inflammatory and divisive messages to influence the American electorate. Mr. Zuckerberg has since appointed tens of thousands of people to work on platform security and to deter coordinated disinformation efforts.

But figuring out what is and isn’t allowed on the social network is slippery. And last month, Facebook announced that politicians and their campaigns would have nearly free rein over content they post there. Previously, the company had prohibited the use of paid political ads that “include claims debunked by third-party fact checkers.”

This month, President Trump’s campaign began circulating an ad on Facebook that made false claims about former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is running for president. When Mr. Biden’s campaign asked Facebook to remove the ad, the company refused, saying ads from politicians were newsworthy and important for discourse.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat from Massachusetts who is also running for president, soon took Facebook to task. She bought a political ad on Facebook that falsely claimed Mr. Zuckerberg and his company supported Mr. Trump for president. (Neither Mr. Zuckerberg nor Facebook have endorsed a political candidate.)

Ms. Warren said she wanted to see how far she could take it on the site. Mr. Zuckerberg had turned his company into a “disinformation-for-profit machine,” she said.

But Mr. Zuckerberg doubled down. In a 5,000-word speech to students at Georgetown University in Washington this month, the chief executive defended his treatment of political ads by citing freedom of expression. He said Facebook’s policies would be seen positively in the long run, especially when compared with policies in countries like China, where the government suppresses online speech.

“People having the power to express themselves at scale is a new kind of force in the world — a Fifth Estate alongside the other power structures of society,” Mr. Zuckerberg said at the time.

Mr. Zuckerberg also said Facebook’s policies were largely in line with what other social networks — like YouTube and Twitter — and most television broadcasters had decided to run on their networks. Federal law mandates that broadcast networks cannot censor political ads from candidates running for office.

Inside Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg’s decision to be hands-off on political ads has supporters. But dissenters said Facebook was not doing enough to check the lies from spreading across the platform.

While internal debate is not uncommon at the social network, it historically has seen less internal turmoil than other tech companies because of a strong sense of mission among its rank and file workers.

That has set it apart from Google and Amazon, which for the last few years have grappled with several employee uprisings. Most notably, 20,000 Google workers walked off the job in 2018 to protest the company’s massive payouts to executives accused of sexual harassment.

Last week, Google employees again challenged management over new software that some staff said was a surveillance tool to keep tabs on workplace dissent. At an employee meeting on Thursday, Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, said he was working on ways to improve trust with employees, while acknowledging it was challenging to maintain transparency as the company grows. A video of Mr. Pichai’s comments was leaked to The Washington Post.

Amazon has faced employee pressure for nearly a year to do more to address the company’s impact on climate change. Some employees worked on a shareholder resolution to push the company on the matter, and more than 7,500 Amazon workers publicly signed a letter to support the proposal. In September, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, announced the company was accelerating its climate goals, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040.

In the Facebook employee letter to Mr. Zuckerberg and other executives, the workers said the policy change on political advertising “doesn’t protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy.”

It added, “We want to work with our leadership to develop better solutions that both protect our business and the people who use our products.”

The letter then laid out product changes and other actions that Facebook could take to reduce the harm from false claims in advertising from politicians. Among the proposals: Changing the visual design treatment for political ads, restricting some of the options for targeting users with those ads, and instituting spending caps for individual politicians.

“This is still our company,” the letter concluded.

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Karen Weise contributed reporting from Seattle.

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How a Month of Impeachment Ads Foreshadow the 2020 Ad Wars

Westlake Legal Group 00impeachads-facebookJumbo How a Month of Impeachment Ads Foreshadow the 2020 Ad Wars Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Social Media Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Political Action Committees Penzeys Spices Online Advertising impeachment Facebook Inc Democratic Party Delgado, Antonio club for growth Campaign Finance

Two minutes after Speaker Nancy Pelosi had announced an official impeachment inquiry, the Trump campaign placed a new ad on Facebook, dropping $12,000 on an “Impeachment Poll” for its supporters.

Days later, the Trump campaign poured $8 million into a national television and digital ad campaign, releasing a television ad spinning the impeachment inquiry on unfounded conspiracy theories about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden. (CNN refused to air the ad, citing inaccuracies.)

All told, more than $13.6 million has been invested in trying to change public opinion on impeachment since the inquiry was announced, according to an analysis by Advertising Analytics, an ad monitoring company. In those four weeks of a rapidly escalating ad war, the messaging that will likely dominate the early stages of the election is coming into focus.

“If anyone is a history buff — and the Spanish Civil War was the precursor to World War II, when all the tactics got tested — then this is the Spanish Civil War for the upcoming presidential election ad wars,” said Ken Goldstein, a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco.

For President Trump and his Republican allies, any effort that counters the president, including impeachment, is painted as evidence of a vast, far-left conspiracy. In ads from the campaign and from the Republican National Committee, the alleged far-left assault is illustrated largely through repetitive mentions and images of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, two freshman Democrats known for their outspoken progressive values and criticism of Mr. Trump, but not as leaders of the impeachment inquiry.

Additionally, Republicans are presenting the inquiry as a diversion: Support of the inquiry, the ads state, means breaking the 2018 midterm election promises of focusing on key issues like improving health care and lowering drug prices.

Democrats, at first largely loath to talk much about the impeachment inquiry for fear of appearing to politicize the issue, have quickly been put on the defensive. But in $1.5 million in ads from House Majority Forward, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, launched in defense of the freshman Democrats targeted by Republicans, there is nary a mention of impeachment. Instead, they are positive ads focused largely on local accomplishments.

“Forget the noise,” one ad from House Majority Forward said in favor of Haley Stevens, a freshman Democrat in Michigan, noting she was “focused on Michigan and getting the job done.”

The biggest advertiser surrounding impeachment, unsurprisingly, is the Trump campaign. With a $150 million-plus war chest, the president’s re-election campaign has dominated paid messaging on all platforms, most visibly on Facebook, raising concerns among Democratic operatives about its control over the digital conversation.

Indeed, Mr. Trump is vastly outspending Democrats on Facebook. He tripled his overall weekly buy of Facebook ads as soon as the impeachment inquiry was announced, and has spent $1.25 million on impeachment ads over the four weeks following the announcement of the inquiry, dwarfing even Tom Steyer, the billionaire candidate flooding airwaves and websites to raise his profile.

But Mr. Trump’s targeting in impeachment ads on Facebook reflects a similar strategy seen in his social media presence: Rather than focusing on persuading independents or voters in states crucial to his re-election, he has instead targeted areas where he has broad support, with advertising designed to fire up his base.

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More than 50 percent of his Facebook impeachment advertising is in states not competitive in 2020, according to an analysis of Facebook ads by Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic consultancy group. Just 9 percent of his ads are in the critical swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Ten percent went to Texas alone.

“Impeachment is just the latest tool that Trump’s using to enrage and activate the voters already in his corner,” said Daniel Scarvalone, a senior director at Bully Pulpit.

Notably, the Trump campaign put barely any resources online behind attacks on Mr. Biden, with roughly $78,000 in Facebook ads invoking some mention of Mr. Biden and his son’s business dealings in Ukraine, according to Bully Pulpit.

“You used to have to make an ad and air it on TV to get the media to fall for it,” said Mr. Goldstein. “Now you spend a couple thousand bucks on Facebook and have a press conference.”

The focus on Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Omar is evident in nearly every ad aligned with the president. In four ads from the Club for Growth, a conservative anti-tax group, that similarly target freshman Democratic representatives, members of the so-called Squad — which includes Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Ms. Omar, and Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib — are front and center. Perhaps unsurprisingly, strategists say it is because criticizing and using images of the Squad also appeals to the Republican targets for impeachment ads.

“They consistently test well in both focus groups and polling,” said Tom Schultz, vice president of campaigns for the Club for Growth, referring to the four congresswomen.

Though the impeachment inquiry is centered on Mr. Trump, part of the Republican Party’s strategy has been to target a core of freshman Democrats in swing districts and erode enthusiasm for impeachment in those areas, pitching support of the inquiry as ignoring progress on other issues. From Oct. 2-9, the R.N.C. spent $1.3 million on versions of these ads targeting 14 different Democratic house freshmen.

“Instead of fixing health care and lowering drug prices,” an ad from the Republican National Committee blares, the House freshman Democrats all vote “with the radicals for endless investigations of President Trump.”

The Republican effort forced House Majority Forward on the air, launching positive spots for 11 of the targeted House Democrats that focus on how they have worked to lower drug prices through Ms. Pelosi’s newly passed bill and other health care efforts.

“That’s why he’s doing the hard work others won’t,” one ad says in support of Representative Antonio Delgado, a freshman Democrat from a district in New York that Mr. Trump won in 2016. The ad goes on to say Mr. Delgado “took on the big drug companies to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.”

Though the Democratic presidential candidates have all tried to avoid focusing on impeachment, for fear of appearing to politicize it, many of the leading campaigns have still used impeachment in advertisements on Facebook to either drum up support or work toward donor acquisition.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi is right: In America, nobody is above the law,” wrote the campaign of Senator Kamala Harris, which spent $36,000 on Facebook impeachment ads, according to Bully Pulpit. “Sign our card to thank Speaker Pelosi for taking up the cause of impeachment.”

“It’s time for Congress to step up and begin impeachment proceedings,” the campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren posted in an ad. “Add your name if you agree with Elizabeth.” The Warren campaign spent about $70,000 on Facebook ads targeting impeachment, according to Bully Pulpit.

These ads, known in political operative speak as acquisition ads, are designed to help candidates gather data on potential supporters or donors and continue to target messages toward them.

But as a sign of just how vast the impeachment ad wars have become, one of the top spenders on Facebook wasn’t even a political entity. Instead, it was a spice company based in Wisconsin, Penzeys Spices, that dropped nearly $100,000 in just a week on ads calling for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

“The political landscape of America is in for the type of sudden shift we haven’t seen in close to 50 years,” the company’s owner, Bill Penzey, wrote in a lengthy Facebook post on Wednesday, outlining the next phase of its impeachment advertising plan. “You might want to buckle up.”

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Trump Campaign Floods Web With Ads, Raking In Cash as Democrats Struggle

Westlake Legal Group 20digitalcampaign-web-facebookJumbo Trump Campaign Floods Web With Ads, Raking In Cash as Democrats Struggle Warren, Elizabeth Trump, Donald J Social Media Sanders, Bernard Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Political Advertising Parscale, Brad (1976- ) Online Advertising Midterm Elections (2018) Harris, Kamala D Facebook Inc Democratic Party cambridge analytica Biden, Joseph R Jr

On any given day, the Trump campaign is plastering ads all over Facebook, YouTube and the millions of sites served by Google, hitting the kind of incendiary themes — immigrant invaders, the corrupt media — that play best on platforms where algorithms favor outrage and political campaigns are free to disregard facts.

Even seemingly ominous developments for Mr. Trump become fodder for his campaign. When news broke last month that congressional Democrats were opening an impeachment inquiry, the campaign responded with an advertising blitz aimed at firing up the president’s base.

The campaign slapped together an “Impeachment Poll” (sample question: “Do you agree that President Trump has done nothing wrong?”). It invited supporters to join the Official Impeachment Defense Task Force (“All you need to do is DONATE NOW!”). It produced a slick video laying out the debunked conspiracy theory about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ukraine that is now at the center of the impeachment battle (“Learn the truth. Watch Now!”).

The onslaught overwhelmed the limited Democratic response. Mr. Biden’s campaign put up the stiffest resistance: It demanded Facebook take down the ad, only to be rebuffed. It then proceeded with plans to slash its online advertising budget in favor of more television ads.

That campaigns are now being fought largely online is hardly a revelation, yet only one political party seems to have gotten the message. While the Trump campaign has put its digital operation firmly at the center of the president’s re-election effort, Democrats are struggling to internalize the lessons of the 2016 race and adapt to a political landscape shaped by social media.

Mr. Trump’s first campaign took far better advantage of Facebook and other platforms that reward narrowly targeted — and, arguably, nastier — messages. And while the president is now embattled on multiple fronts and disfavored by a majority of Americans in most polls, he has one big advantage: His 2020 campaign, flush with cash, is poised to dominate online again, according to experts on both ends of the political spectrum, independent researchers and tech executives. The difference between the parties’ digital efforts, they said, runs far deeper than the distinction between an incumbent’s general-election operation and challengers’ primary campaigns.

The Trump team has spent the past three years building out its web operation. As a sign of its priorities, the 2016 digital director, Brad Parscale, is now leading the entire campaign. He is at the helm of what experts described as a sophisticated digital marketing effort, one that befits a relentlessly self-promoting candidate who honed his image, and broadcast it into national consciousness, on reality television.

The campaign under Mr. Parscale is focused on pushing its product — Mr. Trump — by churning out targeted ads, aggressively testing the content and collecting data to further refine its messages. It is selling hats, shirts and other gear, a strategy that yields yet more data, along with cash and, of course, walking campaign billboards.

“We see much less of that kind of experimentation with the Democratic candidates,” said Laura Edelson, a researcher at New York University who tracks political advertising on Facebook. “They’re running fewer ads. We don’t see the wide array of targeting.”

The Trump campaign, she said, “is like a supercar racing a little Volkswagen Bug.”

The Democrats would be the Volkswagen. The are largely running what other experts and political operatives compared to brand-loyalty campaigns, trying to sway moderates and offend as few people as possible, despite mounting research that suggests persuasion ads have little to no impact on voters in a general election.

The candidates, to be sure, are collectively spending more on Facebook and Google than on television and are trying to target their ads — Mr. Biden’s tend to be seen by those born before 1975, for instance, while Senator Bernie Sanders’s are aimed at those born later. But without the same level of message testing and data collection, the Democrats’ efforts are not nearly as robust as Mr. Trump’s.

[Read more on how Democrats are using Facebook to reach specific voters.]

Democratic digital operatives say the problem is a party dominated by an aging professional political class that is too timid in the face of a fiercely partisan Republican machine. The Biden campaign’s decision to tack from digital to television, they say, is only the most glaring example of a party hung up on the kind of broad-based advertising that played well in the television age but fares poorly on social media.

The digital director of a prominent Democratic presidential campaign recounted how he was shut down by an older consultant when pressing for shorter, pithier ads that could drive clicks. “We don’t need any of your cinéma vérité clickbait,” the consultant snapped, according to the digital director, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid risking his job.

Other digital consultants and campaign officials told similar stories, and complained that the Democratic establishment was too focused on winning over imagined moderates, instead of doing what the Trump campaign has done: firing up its base.

“It’s true that anodyne messaging doesn’t turn anyone off. But it doesn’t turn them on either,” said Elizabeth Spiers, who runs the Insurrection, a progressive digital strategy and polling firm.

Republicans are “not messaging around unity and civility, because those things don’t mobilize people,” Ms. Spiers said, adding that while everyone may want to live in a less divided country, “nobody takes time off work, gets in their car and drives to the polls to vote specifically for that.”

Far more than any other platform, Facebook is the focus for digital campaign spending, and it is in many ways even friendlier turf for Mr. Trump’s campaign than in 2016.

Since then, many younger, more liberal users have abandoned the platform in favor of Instagram, Snapchat and various private messaging apps, while older users — the type most likely to vote Republican — are still flocking to Facebook in droves. People over 65 now make up Facebook’s fastest-growing population in the United States, doubling their use of the platform since 2011, according to Gallup.

In a speech this year in Romania, Mr. Parscale recalled telling his team before the 2016 election that Facebook would allow the campaign to reach the “lost, forgotten people of America” with messages tailored to their interests.

“Millions of Americans, older people, are on the internet, watching pictures of their kids because they all moved to cities,” Mr. Parscale said. “If we can connect to them, we can change this election.”

Facebook also favors the kind of emotionally charged content that Mr. Trump’s campaign has proved adept at creating. Campaigns buy Facebook ads through an automated auction system, with each ad receiving an “engagement rate ranking” based on its predicted likelihood of being clicked, shared or commented on. The divisive themes of Mr. Trump’s campaign tend to generate more engagement than Democrats’ calmer, more policy-focused appeals. Often, the more incendiary the campaign, the further its dollars go.

Provocative ads also get shared more often, creating an organic boost that vaults them even further ahead of less inflammatory messages.

“There’s an algorithmic bias that inherently benefits hate and negativity and anger,” said Shomik Dutta, a digital strategist and a founder of Higher Ground Labs, an incubator for Democratic start-ups. “If anger has an algorithmic bias, then Donald Trump is the captain of that ship.”

A Facebook spokeswoman disputed the notion that ads got more visibility just because they were negative, and noted that users were able to flag offending ads for possible removal.

The company, since the 2016 election, has invested heavily to prevent Russian-style interference campaigns. It has built up its security and fact-checking teams, staffed a “war room” during key elections and changed its rules to crack down on misinformation and false news.

But it has left a critical loophole: Facebook’s fact-checking rules do not apply to political ads, letting candidates spread false or misleading claims. That has allowed Mr. Trump’s campaign to show ads that traditional TV networks have declined to air.

One recent video from the Trump campaign said that Mr. Biden had offered Ukraine $1 billion in aid if it killed an investigation into a company tied to his son. The video’s claims had already been debunked, and CNN refused to play it. But Facebook rejected the Biden campaign’s demand to take the ad down, arguing that it did not violate its policies.

At last count, the video has been viewed on the social network more than five million times.

In the wake of the 2016 election, some on the left sought an explanation for Mr. Trump’s victory in the idea that his campaign had used shadowy digital techniques inspired by military-style psychological warfare — a “Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine,” as one article described it — created by the defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The theories around Cambridge Analytica have never been fully demonstrated, however, and there is a far less nefarious explanation: The Trump campaign simply made better use of standard commercial marketing tools, particularly Facebook’s own high-powered targeting products.

An internal Facebook report written after the 2016 election noted that both the Trump and Clinton campaigns spent heavily on Facebook — $44 million for Mr. Trump versus $28 million for Hillary Clinton. “But Trump’s FB campaigns were more complex,” the memo said, and were better at using Facebook to bring in donations and find new voters. For instance, roughly 84 percent of the Trump ads focused on getting voters to take an action, such as donating, the report said. Only about half of Mrs. Clinton’s did.

At the same time, the Trump campaign sought to tailor its ads more precisely to specific voters, the report said, with a typical Trump message targeted at 2.5 million people, compared with eight million for the Clinton campaign. And the Trump team simply made more unique ads — 5.9 million versus 66,000.

“We were making hundreds of thousands” of variations on similar ads, Mr. Parscale told “60 Minutes” last year. “Changing language, words, colors.”

The idea, he said, was to find “what is it that makes it go, ‘Poof! I’m going to stop and look.’”

For the left, the Trump campaign’s mastery of social media in 2016 represented a sharp reversal. From the blogs of the mid-aughts to Netroots Nation, the digital activists who helped propel Barack Obama to victory in 2008 and 2012, the left was seen as the dominant digital force. The Democrats had an array of tech-savvy campaign veterans who were adept at data mining and digital organizing, and had overseen the creation of a handful of well-resourced digital consulting firms.

Starting with the 2016 primaries, the Trump campaign reversed the trend. While the more traditionally minded Republican operatives signed on to work for the party’s more traditional candidates, such as Jeb Bush, the Trump campaign found itself reliant on “the outliers, and a lot of them truly believed in digital,” said Zac Moffatt, chief executive of Targeted Victory, a Republican digital strategy firm. “It was a changing of the guard, strategically.”

The Republicans’ 2020 operation — with more than $150 million in cash on hand, according to the latest filings — appears to have picked up where it left off.

The Trump campaign’s intense testing of ads is one example. It posts dozens of variations of almost every ad to figure which plays best. Do voters respond better to a blue button or a green one? Are they more likely to click if its says “donate” or “contribute”? Will they more readily cough up cash for an impeachment defense fund or an impeachment defense task force?

The president’s re-election effort is also making use of strategies common in the e-commerce world, such as “zero touch” merchandise sales. T-shirts, posters and other paraphernalia are printed on demand and sent directly to buyers, with the campaign not required to make bulk orders or risk unsold inventory. Sales of these items amount to a lucrative source of campaign fund-raising, and the zero-touch technique allows the campaign to move fast — it was able to start selling T-shirts that say “get over it” a day after the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters to do just than when it came to Ukraine.

Perhaps most important, the Trump campaign is spending to make sure people see its ads, emails, texts, tweets and other content. In the week the impeachment inquiry was announced, for instance, the campaign spent nearly $2.3 million on Facebook and Google ads, according to data compiled by Acronym, a progressive digital strategy organization that tracks campaign spending. That is roughly four to five times what it spent on those platforms in previous weeks, and about half of what most Democratic front-runners have spent on Facebook and Google advertising over the entire course of their campaigns.

The president’s team has also invested heavily in YouTube, buying ads and counterprogramming his opponents. In June, during the first Democratic primary debates, the Trump campaign bought the YouTube “masthead” — a large ad that runs at the top of the site’s home page and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per day — to ensure that debate viewers would see it.

The Trump campaign “is always re-upping their ad buy. As soon as an ad runs out, another one goes in,” Ms. Edelson said, adding, “No one is waiting for next month’s marketing budget to kick in.”

Democrats are struggling to match more than the sheer volume of content coming out of the Trump campaign. Interviews with Democratic consultants and experts revealed a party deeply hesitant to match the Trump campaign’s intense and often angry partisan approach.

Most of the Democratic Party is “not even fighting last year’s war — the war that they’re fighting is 2012,” said David Goldstein, chief executive of Tovo Labs, a progressive digital consulting firm.

Mr. Goldstein offered an instructive anecdote from the 2018 midterm elections. That spring, Tovo signed on to do online fund-raising for Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor in Florida. Tovo wanted to build on the work it had done the year before in Alabama, where it claimed to have depressed Republican turnout by running ads that showcased conservatives who opposed the far-right Senate candidate Roy Moore. The ads did not say they were being run by supporters of the eventual Democratic winner, Doug Jones.

Mr. Goldstein hoped to bring the same edge to Mr. Gillum’s campaign and came up with ads that “were really aggressive.”

“We wanted to provoke people,” he said.

One was a particularly buffoonish caricature of Mr. Trump holding the world in his palm. “As Florida goes in 2018, so goes the White House in 2020,” read the tagline.

The ad was aimed at far-left voters deemed most likely to be motivated by the prospect of pushing Mr. Trump from office, and the response rate was high, Mr. Goldstein said. But a few days after it went up, the campaign manager saw it and “freaked out.”

“This is entirely unacceptable,” the campaign manager, Brendan McPhillips, wrote in an email on April 6, 2018.

In Mr. Goldstein’s telling, the campaign manager feared offending voters whom Mr. Gillum hoped to sway. Mr. McPhillips was not mollified when Tovo explained that the ad was targeted only at voters thought to be deeply anti-Trump. He wanted ads that were focused on his candidate, not produced to elicit an emotional response with images the campaign considered crass.

Mr. McPhillips ordered Tovo to immediately stop running the ads. He said Tovo could only use images approved by the campaign. Tovo left soon thereafter.

The approved images — “standard glamour shots of the candidate” — would work for a newspaper ad or television spot, Mr. Goldstein said, but were not “going to drive clicks and provoke people to take action.”

Mr. Gillum narrowly lost the race.

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Fox News Is Trump’s Chief TV Booster. So Why Is He Griping About It?

Westlake Legal Group 13fox-impeach1-facebookJumbo Fox News Is Trump’s Chief TV Booster. So Why Is He Griping About It? Smith, Shepard Scott, Suzanne Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Pirro, Jeanine News and News Media impeachment Hannity, Sean Fox News Channel Baier, Bret

Fed up with the coverage on his favorite cable news station, President Trump decided late this summer that a direct intervention was needed. So he telephoned the chief executive of Fox News, Suzanne Scott, and let loose.

In a lengthy conversation, Mr. Trump complained that Fox News was not covering him fairly, according to three people with knowledge of the call. Ms. Scott, who has led the cable network since last year, responded by urging Mr. Trump to sit for an interview with Bret Baier, the channel’s chief political anchor, the people said.

If the conversation placated Mr. Trump — who has taken to calling Fox News “HOPELESS & CLUELESS!” — his public statements in the weeks afterward did not show it.

Irked by their reporting, he taunted the Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who resigned from the network on Friday, and its chief national correspondent, Ed Henry. He declared that the Fox News pollsters “suck” after they found majority support for impeachment and openly pined for the network’s “good old days.”

“@Fox News doesn’t deliver for US anymore,” Mr. Trump tweeted last week.

That tensions exist at all between Mr. Trump and the home of Sean Hannity and “Fox & Friends” has prompted incredulity inside the network and out. Fox News’s star commentators — including Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro — are among the president’s most vociferous media defenders, providing a punditry firewall that Mr. Trump arguably needs more than ever as an impeachment inquiry looms and the 2020 campaign intensifies.

But the president has rarely been satisfied with the adulation he receives from the network’s prime-time and morning opinion shows. Instead, he often fixates on any hint of criticism, deeming the network ungrateful for the high ratings that he attributes to himself.

When Mr. Henry, interviewing the pro-Trump commentator Mark Levin on a segment of “Fox & Friends” in September, suggested that Mr. Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian prime minister could be problematic, the president retweeted more than 20 posts from other Twitter users calling Mr. Henry names like “fake news.” Mr. Trump had sat for an interview with Mr. Henry less than two weeks earlier.

Trump-friendly hosts receive periodic reminders that the president is keeping tabs. At a rally in Minnesota last week, Mr. Trump ticked off the names of his favorite Fox News stars like an announcer at an all-star game. (“Sean’s got the No. 1 show,” he said. “And Laura Ingraham’s knocking them out of the park.”) But he also had a subtle warning for Brian Kilmeade, the “Fox & Friends” co-host who recently questioned Mr. Trump’s decision to remove troops from Syria.

“Brian has gotten a lot better, right?” Mr. Trump asked the crowd. “Brian was a seven, and he’s getting close to 10 territory.”

The president even tried to promote a fledgling Fox News rival, the Trump-friendly One America News, which he praised last week “for your fair coverage and brilliant reporting.”

In cajoling and bullying his closest media allies, Mr. Trump is wielding the total-loyalty litmus test that he has used to keep close associates in line. And the possibility of a vote on impeachment is upping the stakes.

Anthony Scaramucci, who served briefly as Mr. Trump’s White House communications director — and has recently become a vocal critic — invoked a popular story about Lyndon Johnson viewing Walter Cronkite’s reporting as a bellwether for the public mood on Vietnam.

“Fox News is Trump’s Walter Cronkite,” Mr. Scaramucci said in an email. “Once he loses the majority of them, it’s over. He knows it, which is why he is bashing and intimidating them.”

The ties between Mr. Trump and Fox News are so close that many Democrats deem the channel an external arm of the West Wing.

The network and its parent company, Fox Corporation, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his eldest son Lachlan Murdoch, employ former Trump aides like Hope Hicks, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Raj Shah. Mr. Trump installed a former Fox News co-president, Bill Shine, as his deputy chief of staff. (Mr. Shine lasted less than a year in the job and is now an adviser for the 2020 campaign.)

Mr. Trump has made dozens of appearances on the network, the vast majority of his one-on-one interviews as president. And he is a devoted viewer, often tweeting his real-time reactions to Fox News shows.

Stars like Mr. Hannity and Jesse Watters — “my Watters,” as Mr. Trump called him at a Friday rally — have dined at the White House. Mr. Hannity and Ms. Pirro once took the stage with Mr. Trump during a campaign rally in Rush Limbaugh’s hometown, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

At the Fox News headquarters in Manhattan, the closeness has brought unease, with the reporting staff and the opinion hosts increasingly at odds over how to cover Mr. Trump and the impeachment inquiry.

Chris Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” host, has conducted tough interviews with administration players like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. But last month, a guest on Mr. Carlson’s show heckled Andrew Napolitano, the network’s legal analyst, calling him a “fool” for saying that Mr. Trump may have committed a crime. The next day, on his 3 p.m. news program “Shepard Smith Reporting,” Mr. Smith called the guest’s comment “repugnant”; Mr. Carlson fired back with the suggestion that Mr. Smith had a liberal bias.

On Friday, Mr. Smith, the network’s chief anchor and managing editor of its breaking news unit, who had once called out Mr. Trump for “lie after lie after lie,” revealed that he had had enough. In a surprise announcement, he said he would leave the network after 23 years; friends said he was dismayed at the in-house deference given to Mr. Trump’s prime-time cheerleaders.

Such is the scrutiny on Fox News that a theory sprang up on social media tying Mr. Smith’s departure to a meeting last week between Rupert Murdoch and the attorney general, William Barr. In fact, Mr. Smith had been considering an exit for weeks. (It remains unclear what the Barr-Murdoch meeting entailed; aides to both men have declined to elaborate, and the president claimed, in comments to reporters on Friday, that he was unaware of what they discussed.) Still, the Barr-Murdoch meeting hinted at the unusual closeness between a news network and a presidential administration.

Which, to some observers, makes Mr. Trump’s recent gripes all the more inexplicable.

“Blasting Fox, which is one of his last redoubts of a lot of support, makes no sense strategically,” said Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican strategist who has opposed Mr. Trump. “But when he sees a show or comment he doesn’t like, he just reflexively attacks that personality or that journalist.”

Fox News commands a significant audience of Trump supporters. A Pew study found that 40 percent of Trump voters in 2016 cited the network as their “main source” of news about the campaign. Among all voters, 19 percent cited Fox News as their primary news source, the highest of any network. The channel has been the No. 1-rated cable news network over all since 2002.

But Fox News executives see some tactical advantages to Mr. Trump’s jibes.

For one, the rebukes offer a useful rejoinder to critics who deride Fox News as “state TV.” The network has also sought to highlight skeptical Trump coverage to advertisers who may be leery of provocative right-wing punditry. Mr. Carlson and Ms. Ingraham have both faced ad boycotts for offensive on-air comments.

At a panel for advertisers in Manhattan last month, the network gathered Mr. Baier, Mr. Wallace and the news anchor Martha MacCallum to talk about covering the White House. The message: Trump doesn’t own us.

“Contrary to the opinion of some people, he’s not our boss,” Ms. MacCallum said, marveling at Mr. Trump’s criticism of Fox News for airing interviews with Democratic presidential candidates. “It is kind of shocking to hear that he really — that’s the way he thinks about how we should cover the election.”

Mr. Wallace joked about the president’s tendency to compare him unfavorably to his father, the “60 Minutes” legend Mike Wallace, who died in 2012. “He often likes to say about me, ‘You know, I was covered by Mike Wallace, I liked him much more,’” Mr. Wallace told the advertisers. “To which my reaction is always: One of us has a daddy problem, and it’s not me.”

While the anchors have noted their independence from the administration, many opinion hosts have continued to show loyalty. Mr. Hannity has devoted his top-rated prime-time show to denouncing the impeachment inquiry, calling it a “witch hunt” led by “the radical, destructive, delusional Democratic Party.” Ms. Pirro, during a live interview with Mr. Trump on Saturday, concluded by complimenting the president’s stamina. “Do you take vitamins? How do you do this?” Ms. Pirro asked admiringly.

It wasn’t always so cozy. In the 2016 race, Mr. Trump clashed with the network, feuding with its anchor Megyn Kelly after she questioned him at a debate about his derogatory comments toward women. Later, he boycotted a Fox News debate in Iowa, because the network would not remove Ms. Kelly as a moderator. At the time, Ms. Kelly told her viewers that Mr. Trump “doesn’t get to control the media.”

Ms. Kelly has since left Fox News. Mr. Hannity replaced her in the key 9 p.m. time slot. And Mr. Trump has continued working to influence the network.

“With me,” he said of Fox back in 2016, “they’re dealing with somebody that’s a little bit different.”

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Warren Dares Facebook With Intentionally False Political Ad

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WASHINGTON — Elizabeth Warren is playing a game of dare with Facebook.

The Democratic presidential candidate bought a political ad on the social network this past week that purposefully includes false claims about Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and President Trump to goad the social network to remove misinformation in political ads ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

The ad, placed on Facebook beginning Thursday, starts with Ms. Warren announcing “Breaking news.” The ad then goes on to say that Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg are backing the re-election of Trump. Neither Mr. Zuckerberg nor the Silicon Valley company has announced their support of a candidate.

“You’re probably shocked, and you might be thinking ‘how could this possibly be true?’ Well, it’s not,” Ms. Warren said in the ad.

In a series of tweets on Saturday, Ms. Warren said she had deliberately made an ad with lies because Facebook had previously allowed politicians to place ads with false claims. “We decided to see just how far it goes,” the senator from Massachusetts wrote, calling Facebook a “disinformation-for-profit machine” and adding that Mr. Zuckerberg should be held accountable.

Ms. Warren’s actions follow a brouhaha over Facebook and political ads in recent weeks. Mr. Trump’s campaign recently bought ads across social media that accused another Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph Biden, of corruption in Ukraine. That ad, viewed more than 5 million times on Facebook, falsely said that Mr. Biden offered $1 billion to Ukrainian officials to remove a prosecutor who was overseeing an investigation of a company associated with Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

This past week, the Biden campaign demanded that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube take down the ad. Facebook refused, telling the Biden campaign that it would keep the Trump ad up because of its belief that statements by politicians add to important discourse and are newsworthy, even if they are false. Twitter and YouTube have also kept the ad online.

Ms. Warren’s false ads on Facebook are now set to escalate her growing feud with the world’s biggest social network.

Ms. Warren has turned into a vocal critic of tech companies and their power. She has called for behemoths like Facebook and Google to be broken up. In a leaked audio recording published this month of a meeting that Mr. Zuckerberg had with Facebook employees, he was heard saying that Facebook would sue if Ms. Warren were to enact the breakup plan as president. In response, Ms. Warren doubled down, saying that America needed to “fix a corrupt system that lets giant companies like Facebook engage in illegal anticompetitive practices, stomp on consumer privacy rights, and repeatedly fumble their responsibility to protect our democracy.”

This month, Ms. Warren’s campaign also sent an email seeking donations with the subject line “re: Mark Zuckerberg.” And at a rally in San Diego, as she talked about the power of huge corporations, she told the crowd, “Break them up. And yes, Mark Zuckerberg, I’m looking at you.”

For Facebook, the situation is tricky. The social media company has struggled in recent years with what to allow and disallow on its site, especially after revelations that Russian operatives used the platform during the 2016 presidential election to post disinformation to inflame the American electorate. Facebook has moved to clamp down on false content. Yet when the company removes or buries messages, ads, photos and videos, it is often called out for bias and censorship. Facebook has faced particular wrath from conservatives, who have said the social network intentionally suppresses what they say.

“Facebook believes political speech should be protected,” a spokesman for Facebook said on Saturday. “If Senator Warren wants to say things she knows to be untrue, we believe Facebook should not be in the position of censoring that speech.”

Ms. Warren declined to comment on Saturday beyond her Twitter thread and Facebook ads.

Truth in social media advertising is likely to become a bigger issue ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Mr. Zuckerberg is scheduled to speak about Facebook’s political speech policies this coming week at Georgetown University.

Presidential candidates have all been spending huge sums on ads on Facebook and other social media platforms to reach voters. Some campaigns have focused on advertising specifically on Facebook given its sheer size — it has more than 2.2 billion users worldwide — and the ability to spread ads and content cheaply and quickly across the platform.

Like her rivals for the Democratic nomination, Ms. Warren has spent a significant amount of money on Facebook advertising, which is a crucial way to reach potential grass-roots donors. Over all, her presidential campaign has spent more than $3.3 million on Facebook ads, according to numbers disclosed by the company.

Unlike the social media companies, some broadcast media outlets have refused to run the false Trump campaign ad that said Mr. Biden acted corruptly in Ukraine. CNN and NBCU, which declined to run the ad, said it violated their standards.

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