What’s Trending? 📈 Afghanistan

This piece was originally published in the August 13, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.

Hey, y’all.

The U.S. pullout from Afghanistan and its consequences dominated the news this week, including on Facebook. We’ll dive in below.

But first! Did you miss our latest edition of What’s Trending? Don’t worry — you can read it here.

WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK

  • School mask mandates: The Biden administration responded this week to efforts to ban mask mandates in Texas, Florida, and six other states. The bans elicited concern about back-to-school plans from both public health officials and parents as Covid cases among children rise. Wednesday, President Biden gave the Department of Education the go-ahead to use their civil rights authority to deter bans on mask mandates.
  • Afghanistan: A surge this week from Taliban fighters swept the country during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Biden administration has responded by sharply increasing the number of evacuation flights out of the Kabul airport. In a speech on Monday, Biden made it clear that human rights would remain at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy with Afghanistan, indicating that we would continue to support the Afghan people even as our decades-long military presence comes to an end.
  • Economic recovery: Unemployment claims reached a new pandemic low, with only 343,000 new claims last week. This followed the news that the U.S. added 4 million jobs since the start of Biden’s term.

WHAT WE’RE HEARING ON SOCIAL

Last week conservatives outperformed progressives in the top 10 political posts by interactions, earning seven of the top 10 spots.

Ben Shapiro published four of the top 10 posts, touching on Afghanistan, mask mandates, and cancel culture.

Top progressive posts came from President Biden and mostly covered the U.S. pullout in Afghanistan.

Top 20 best-performing political Facebook posts by interactions, according to data from NewsWhip.
Top 10 best-performing political Facebook posts on the left and right for the weeks of August 5 and August 12 by interactions, according to data from NewsWhip.
Top ten Facebook posts from progressive pages over the last week, according to data from NewsWhip.
Top ten Facebook posts from conservative pages over the last week, according to data from NewsWhip.

DEEP DIVE

Afghanistan dominated the news on Facebook this week, with posts on the topic generating nearly 12 million engagements on Monday alone — twice as many as COVID-19 posts on any given day and nearly 3x the spike of activity we observed on the day of the January 6th hearing several weeks ago.

Nine out of the 20 most-engaged posts about Afghanistan were from conservative pundits, including six from Fox News. Fox’s coverage centered on Donald Trump as well as Bush administration alums.

Other highly-engaged posts included UNICEF, CNN, and other news organizations centering the experience of Afghans, as well as President Biden explaining the decision to withdraw.

Total daily interactions (U.S. only) with Facebook posts matching topic keywords, according to data from NewsWhip (U.S. pages only).

Thanks for reading,

Alex

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This newsletter is written by me, Alex Witt (@alexandriajwitt), a progressive political staffer and Dolly Parton enthusiast (she/her), and CAP Action’s fantastic team of designers, data analysts, and email strategists.

Hard-hitting news + analysis paired with action on the issues that matter most. Working alongside @AmProg.