Though many Democrats have decried the role of social media giant Facebook in spreading ‘fake news’ during the 2016 presidential election, the party’s new debate rules are driving candidates to shovel millions into the platform.
Even as a growing number of 2020 hopefuls get in line to suggest breaking up the tech firm – arguing it wields too much power and influence, and that it helps to spread misinformation online – their campaigns continue to spend lavishly on Facebook ads.
In the last 90 days, billionaire-investor-turned-candidate Tom Steyer has spent $3.1 million on some 3,200 Facebook ads, blowing the next largest Democratic social media spender, Kirsten Gillibrand, out of the water by over $1 million, according to the site’s ad library. In the same period, several top Democratic candidates also spent in excess of $1 million on Facebook ads, including Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Julian Castro, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.
The more recent figures are even starker in Steyer’s case, who, as of this week, is spending $140,000 on ads every single day, many of them pleading for a contribution of just one dollar.
Tom Steyer spent $2.9 million in 30 days on Facebook ads begging for $1 donations. As of Aug. 11, he is spending $140K per day. Remember when Dems blamed Facebook for subverting democracy? They turned around and devised a system that is enriching Facebook at preposterous levels
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) August 13, 2019
While it may seem odd to blow millions in exchange for a dollar at a time, the candidates’ spending habits are propelled by the Democratic Party’s debate rules – which mandate “donor thresholds,” or a certain number of individual contributions, before a candidate can step onto a debate stage. The newest requirements, however, are feeding the social media goliath and further entrenching its place in American politics: precisely what many Democratic lawmakers and candidates have criticized since the last election.
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