On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company will rework its social media platform, reducing the amount of political content in newsfeeds.
“One of the top pieces of feedback that we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services,” Zuckerberg said on a conference call with analysts, CNN reported.
Before the U.S. presidential election, Facebook stopped recommending civic and political groups to its users. Zuckerberg said the platform plans to continue this policy long term across the globe.
Facebook and Google have intermittently banned political ads, temporarily pausing an industry that spent $3.2 billion advertising on Google and Facebook in the last two-and-a-half years. Some digital political firms are freezing hiring due to the uncertainty on these platforms, uncertainty that has already begun to impact state and local races this year and the midterm elections in 2022, Politico reported.
“This is an industry that built itself around Facebook and Google, and that rug has been pulled out from underneath them,” Tim Cameron, a Republican digital strategist, told Politico. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see layoffs on the digital side of the industry, as well as shifting to doing different types of work, like digital firms adding more mail or other traditional media to what they do.”
While Facebook’s algorithm on political advertising has affected both Republicans and Democrats equally, the platform’s decision to reduce political content in newsfeeds would likely impact conservative-leaning new media more than established legacy media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post. These and other legacy outlets push an increasingly bold-faced leftist agenda, especially on issues like abortion, climate alarmism, and transgenderism.
Many on the Left have faulted social media companies like Facebook for allowing misinformation to spread on the platforms. While some of these criticisms are legitimate, much of what leftists dub “misinformation” actually involves legitimate dissent from the Left’s political narrative.
While Facebook’s ban on political ads likely harms the company to some degree, the company announced that it had posted an $11.2 billion profit in the final three months of 2020, an increase of more than 50 percent from 2019. Facebook’s revenue rose 33 percent to roughly $28 billion during that quarter.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.