Cumming’s Facebook Election

Recently, it seemed that even Facebook tired of the Conservative party’s mendacity; removing Tory advertisements that featured a BBC headline doctored to exaggerate the party’s school spending commitment

There’s a simple reason for this growing digital focus. As Wrexham’s Labour MP Ian Lucas, a member of the Commons Culture Select Committee that has investigated the social media site’s role in politics, says: “Facebook is the most important platform in election campaigns in the UK.”

Facebook facilitates data-driven electioneering: building the audience, segmenting it, testing and creating message creations, targeting and delivering messages, and fundraising. The 2016 Trump campaign raised $250-280m, of which it spent an estimated $70-90m on Facebook advertising. Facebook staff were embedded in both the Trump and Clinton campaigns to assist campaign operatives in their targeting.

As an admirer of David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s campaign director who used Facebook as a key campaign tool in 2008 and 2012, Dominic Cummings has made no secret of the importance of Facebook to the 2016 Vote Leave campaign. Writing on his blog, Cummings has explained in detail how Vote Leave spent a substantial amount of money on Facebook advertising in the final few days of the referendum campaign, hammering home “the same messages: £350m / NHS / Turkey”.

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