What’s Trending? 📈 Historic firsts

This piece was originally published in the December 2, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.

Hey, y’all.

I hope everyone had a chance to relax and unplug over the Thanksgiving break. I spent my own baking the best cheesecake ever and listening to A Promised Land.

Let’s dive in.

WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK

The coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen with medical professionals warning Americans of a likely surge following the Thanksgiving holiday. Sunday marked the highest number of airline passengers traveling in the U.S. in a single day since before the pandemic. More than 90,000 Americans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. And experts say it’s only likely to get worse as we settle in for the upcoming winter holidays.

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 November 24–30, according to data from NewsWhip.

Early last week, the General Services Administration finally ascertained Biden as the apparent winner of the November presidential election, allowing him to move forward with his transition in earnest.

Thus, Biden has begun announcing cabinet nominees and White House senior staff. It’s a team of historic firsts including an all-woman communications team, the first woman to head the Treasury Department, the first woman director of national intelligence, the first Latino to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and the first woman of color, CAP Action’s own Neera Tanden, to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

And while top political posts on Facebook over the past week were largely focused on the Thanksgiving holiday, there was a noticeable shift from progressives toward amplifying these announcements and nominations.

Trump and his conservative allies, however, continue to refuse to acknowledge the transition. In fact, nearly all of the top 500 posts from conservatives last week still falsely claimed some sort of voter fraud or election rigging.

Yet, when the right does wade into the topic of nominations, they are able to compete.

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.

Moving forward, it’s going to be vitally important for progressives to juggle multiple topics on social. Conservatives are currently outperforming on topics like the pandemic, election integrity, and holding the Senate accountable for passing a much-needed economic relief package.

SAY IT WITH ME

A report from Charlie Warzel at the New York Times did a great job exploring the effects of Facebook on Baby Boomers.

  • Americans are being exposed to their Facebook friends’ unfiltered, worst inclinations daily on the platform.
  • These divisions aren’t limited to Facebook activity — we see them play out regularly in national politics, as well.

“It’s so extreme…I’ve watched people go from debating the issue to coming up with the craziest thing they can say to get attention.”

— Karen Pierce, featured in the NYT article

The bottom line: What began as a platform for connecting with far-away friends, old classmates, and family has morphed into an engagement-driven echo chamber. The sooner Facebook accepts this as fact, the sooner we will be able to honestly and effectively address its shortcomings. Read the story.

ON MY RADAR

  • Today, December 2, Moms Rising (@MomsRising) is holding a digital day of action to demand a COVID-relief package. Join them on Twitter using the hashtags #COVIDReliefNow and #ReliefCantWait to pressure the Senate to pass a package supporting American families and workers.

ASK ALEX

This week a reader writes, “What is Newsmax?”

Ah, only the stuff of nightmares.

Newsmax is a conservative news and opinion website, and after Fox News called the election for Biden, it’s being widely touted as the network of choice by Trump and his allies.

According to Nielsen data reported by CNN, Newsmax is growing at a rapid clip. The average number of people watching at any given time grew from 25,000 over the summer to 182,000 viewers during Election Week. That number has only grown since. In early November, its top evening shows were reaching up to 800,000 viewers.

Why is this so dangerous? The messaging is extreme, even by Fox News standards. False claims of voter fraud and Trump leading the race abound.

If you’re looking to dive deeper, I can’t recommend this New York Times piece on the platform (and a stiff drink) enough.

Have a great week,

Alex

P.S. Please do forward along to your friends who are interested or encourage them to sign up here.

This newsletter is written by me, Alex Witt (@alexandriajwitt), a progressive political strategist and Dolly Parton enthusiast (she/her). I’ve managed social media programs for presidential candidates, political committees, progressive advocacy organizations, and more.

This piece was originally published in the December 2, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.

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

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