The 2016 Trump presidential campaign identified millions of Black Americans in an apparent attempt to deter them from going to the polls — and Facebook may have played a critical role.
That’s according to Channel 4 News, which obtained the campaign’s voter database on 200 million Americans. Notably, 3.5 million Black Americans were categorized as “Deterrence” — a category the Trump campaign reportedly described as “hope don’t show up to vote.” The question, of course, is did the Trump campaign pay Facebook to run ads targeting this voter block in an effort to keep it home on election day?
Unfortunately, at present, we don’t know the answer. Facebook’s failure to release the relevant data from the Trump team’s advertising campaign makes it almost impossible to know. Facebook could likely prove it was not used in this way by the Trump campaign if it wanted to.
We reached out to Facebook in an attempt to determine if the Trump campaign specifically targeted Black Americans on the social media platform with ads designed to discourage voter turnout. We received no immediate response.
Facebook did previously allow advertisers to target based on “ethnic affinity,” but partially — only partially — discontinued the practice in (you guessed it) November of 2016. In August of this year, Facebook stopped allowing advertisers to target users based on their “multicultural affinity.” One of the removed targeting options was “African American Affinity.”
Notably, Facebook did respond to Channel 4 News, though its response did not directly answer the key question. Instead, the response published by Channel 4 News focused on Facebook’s policies today, and not what they were in 2016…Read more>>