What’s Trending? 📈 New year, same conspiracy theories

This piece was originally published in the January 6, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.

Hey, y’all.

I hope you had a restful holiday season. I spent my own watching TV (highly recommend the new Selena series!), playing cards, and generally trying to avoid the internet.

But in Donald Trump’s America, you can only avoid the news cycle for so long — so today we’re going to dive into Trump’s “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theory. But first, did you miss the last edition of What’s Trending? Don’t worry — you can read it here.

WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK

  • On Sunday night, the Washington Post released audio of Trump begging Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, to “find him 11,780 votes” in order to alter the state’s election results in his favor. The call audio comes on the heels of a small but significant number of Republican elected officials announcing their intent to challenge the election results through Congress.
  • As the coronavirus mutates and domestic cases continue to surge, problems with the vaccine rollout are mounting and distribution is far behind original expectations. Despite Trump’s Operation Warp Speed stated goal to produce and deliver 300 million vaccines by January 2021, as of Monday, only 15.4 million vaccines had been distributed across the country and, of those distributed, only 4.5 million have actually been administered.

WHAT WE’RE HEARING ON SOCIAL

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

Five best-performing political Facebook posts by total interactions for the week of December 28–January 4, according to data from NewsWhip

Trump’s “Stop the Steal” hoax is reaching a fever pitch today, as protestors gather in Washington and Congress meets to certify the election results. The conspiracy that widespread election fraud occurred during the November presidential election is completely false, yet according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey conducted in early December, only 24 percent of Republicans trust the accuracy of the 2020 election results.

As of yesterday, at least 13 Republican senators and more than 100 Republican members of the House have said they will object to the certification of presidential election results. Is this unprecedented? Not entirely. A small number of members of the House who belong to the party that lost the presidential election have objected in recent years. What is unusual is senators joining — and in this case, leading national messaging campaigns — around them. And in our current political climate, it’s not just unusual, it’s downright dangerous.

And Facebook is prime for abuse. Over the past week alone, a whopping 41 of the top 100 political Facebook posts were about the election results. Of those, only two were from progressives, and the rest were from conservatives.

Volume of Facebook conversation about the election results among the top 100 political Facebook posts, according to data from NewsWhip.

The posts progressives are publishing about the election results are performing much poorer compared to those from conservatives.

Top 20 best-performing Facebook posts by interactions about the election results from conservative and progressive pages 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.

SAY IT WITH ME

A new article from the Washington Post uncovers how disinformation has run rampant in Republican Facebook ads targeting the Georgia runoff.

According to data collected by Avaaz, nearly 100 relevant Facebook ads contained disinformation — some having been debunked by Facebook’s own fact-checking partners.

The bottom line: Even when limiting political ads to a single state, Facebook cannot manage the spread of disinformation on its platform.

ASK ALEX

This week a reader asks, “I’m working on an end-of-year review. What metrics should I pull for posterity?”

Great question! Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Total followers on each channel
  • Impressions/reach
  • Engagements
  • Shares
  • Account growth
  • Dollars raised/volunteers recruited/actions taken — whichever your organization emphasizes
  • Number of posts
  • Website traffic
  • Top-performing posts

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 January 6, 2021 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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