What’s Trending? 📈 Existential crises

WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK

  • In newly released audio, recorded weeks before the first confirmed coronavirus death was reported in the U.S., Donald Trump admitted knowing how contagious and deadly the coronavirus is. Conversation about the Woodward tapes spiked last Wednesday with 2.5 million interactions, but the conversation stopped almost completely on 9/11.
  • The western U.S. is burning at an unprecedented rate, and Trump has largely remained silent on the issue. Right-wing Facebook, however, has not. One article baselessly claiming that the fires are a “coordinated and planned” attack was shared more than 70,000 times (!) by groups and pages with more than 5 million followers according to a report in The Guardian. In fact, Facebook has become so rife with disinformation that local law enforcement agencies are pleading for people to stop spreading the rumors so they can properly do their jobs. More on this below.

WHAT WE’RE HEARING ON SOCIAL

Here are this week’s top five Facebook posts on the Left and Right:

5 best-performing Facebook posts by total interactions among 200 of the largest conservative and progressive pages for the week of September 8–14, according to CrowdTangle

“One thing volume does not account for is the increased persuasive power of localized disinformation.”

Progressives have done a better job of responding to this disaster. Progressive Facebook posts about the wildfires outperformed conservative posts more than 2 to 1, earning nearly 1.75 million interactions over the past week compared to the nearly 730,000 from conservatives. It is important to note, however, that these interactions come largely from the volume of posts and not virality — progressives posted more than 300% more than conservatives about the fires.

Facebook interactions from top progressive and conservative pages about the wildfires, according to NewsWhip
  1. State the facts. Example: “The science is clear — climate change is impacting our country right now, and it is exacerbating the wildfires.”
  2. Indicate the lie but avoid amplifying it, if possible. “Donald Trump failed to accept that fact, and he is trying to shift the blame.”
  3. Return to the truth. “To keep Americans safe, we need to listen to facts and science and take bold steps to combat the climate crisis.”

SAY IT WITH ME

  • A former Facebook data scientist went public with countless examples of the company ignoring or being slow to act on fake accounts influencing current events around the globe, including in the United States, Brazil, Ukraine, India and more.
  • The global effects of this inaction are widespread — violence at mass protests, lack of response to the coronavirus pandemic, and of course, election interference.

ON MY RADAR

  • Today, September 16, #StopHateForProfit is holding an Instagram freeze to focus attention on Facebook and its role in spreading disinformation, violence, and racism. Learn more about the campaign at this link to its social media toolkit.
  • Tomorrow, September 17, is a National #FundtheFrontLines Day of Action. Join AFSCME and others in demanding that the Senate deliver robust and direct aid to fund the essential public services we need to beat the pandemic and safely reopen the economy.

ASK ALEX

In response to last week’s report that Ben Shapiro posted 600 times on Facebook in a single week, a reader writes, “Is there utility in reposting content on your page? Do conservative pages post the same content multiple times?”

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