During the 2016 election, Facebook offered to help both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton make the most of the social media in order to target voters. Trump took them up on the offer, but Clinton turned them down, according to a report in the Daily Mail on Monday.
So, candidate Trump had Facebook employees “embedded” in the offices of his campaign, and according to Trump’s digital director, Brad Parscale, they helped his staff to win the election.
During the election, Parscale was responsible for overseeing advertising, data collection and a large part of fund-raising. In an interview with CBS News, Parscale said that Facebook employees “would show up for work every day in our offices to help maximize … use of the social media website and target voters.”
Parscale noted that by not taking help from Facebook, Clinton likely put herself at a disadvantage, which is yet another reason she lost.
“I understood early that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going to win. Twitter is how he talked to the people. Facebook was going to be how he won,” Parscale explained. “Facebook now lets you get to people and places, possibly, that you would never go with TV ads. Now, I can find, you know, 15 people in the Florida panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for. And, we took opportunities that I think the other side didn’t.”
Parscale said that he was allowed to hand-pick Republican employees to help, but the company denies that claim. Facebook insists it offered the same kind of help to all candidates during the election.
In a statement released to CBS News, Facebook said, “We encourage all candidates, groups, and voters to use our platforms to engage in elections. We want it to be easy for people to find, follow and contact their elected representatives. That’s why, for candidates across the political for candidates across the political spectrum, Facebook offers the same level of support in key moments to help campaigns understand how best to use the platform.”
Parscale pointed out that Trump was competing against Hillary Clinton’s campaign machine, which had far greater resources than Trump’s campaign budget for TV ads.
“I think Facebook was the method” with which Trump won the presidency, said Parscale, calling the social media site “the highway which his car drove on.”
Parscale learned from Google and Twitter staff, having asked them, “I wanna know every single secret button, click, technology you have. I wanna know everything you would tell Hillary’s campaign plus some. And I want your people here to teach me how to use it.”
He and his team vetted potential Facebook employees to ensure that they were Republicans and supported Trump’s presidential bid.
The news of Facebook’s election help comes after the company said it would hand over the contents of more than 3,000 ads bought by Russians during the presidential race.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come under scrutiny for the network’s potential role in influencing the election. During a Facebook live stream, he said his company would try to do more to help protect the integrity” of elections, but noted, “I wish I could tell you we’re going to be able to stop all interference, but that just wouldn’t be realistic. There will always be bad actors.”
A spokesman for Twitter said, “Twitter provides nonpartisan ad sales resources to advertisers around the world, helping them use our ad sales platform efficiently. In 2016 we offered such resources to both the Clinton and Trump campaigns, as well as gubernatorial and Senate races across both parties.”
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