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Are social media firms biased against conservatives? No, says Facebook data

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by Oliver Darcy, CNN Business — May 29, 2020 .

President Donald Trump has angrily complained this week about social media companies, repeatedly accusing them of censoring conservative voices and going as far as to sign an executive order Thursday seeking to limit their power.

But data from Facebook, the world’s largest social media company, pours cold water on the assertion that conservative voices are being silenced.

In fact, according to CrowdTangle, a data-analytics firm owned by Facebook, content from conservative news organizations dominates Facebook and often outperforms content from straightforward news organizations.

Additionally, over the last month on Facebook, Trump has captured 91% of the total interactions on content posted by the US presidential candidates, according to CrowdTangle. Biden has captured only 9%.

CrowdTangle computes interactions by totaling the number of likes, comments, and shares a post receives.

Over the last month, the top performing news organization in the US was Fox News, a conservative network which largely echoes the Trump White House’s messaging.

Fox News captured 13% of all interactions among US news organizations with more than 29 million likes, comments, and shares, according to CrowdTangle.

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The second top-performing page belonged to Breitbart, a right-wing website that is largely supportive of the President and has close ties to the White House. Its Facebook page accounted for 9% of the total US media interactions over the last month with more than 20 million likes, comments, and shares.

The third best performing US news organization was CNN, with 7% of the interactions; the fourth was ABC News with 5%; the fifth was NPR with 4%.

When sorting by US political media, the data skews largely in favor of conservative news organizations, according to CrowdTangle. Six of the top 10 US political media pages belonged to conservatives.

Ben Shapiro, the prominent conservative news personality, generated more than 25 million interactions over the past month on his page, accounting for 29% of the total share from US political media on Facebook, according to CrowdTangle.

The second top US political media page belonged to Breitbart, with 23% of total interactions.

Other conservative outlets in the top 10 for US political media over the last month: The Western Journal in fifth with 4% of the total interactions; TheBlaze in seventh with 3% of the total interactions; IJR in eight with 2% of total interactions; and the Washington Examiner in ninth with 2% of interactions.

Trump and Republican lawmakers have repeatedly accused Facebook and other social media platforms of bias, painting the companies as villains in a longstanding culture war used to excite the conservative base.

Technology platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have banned certain users in the past for violating hate speech policies.

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In a widely covered move, Facebook, YouTube, and Apple booted right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from their platforms in 2018 for violating hate speech and harassment policies. The companies maintained that they do not discriminate against users for their political beliefs.

But the nuance has been lost on Trump, Republican leaders, and members of the conservative media.

Republicans and right-wing media outlets have been all too happy running with the narrative that social media companies are censoring conservatives, regardless of the facts. Fox News, Breitbart, and other outlets have amplified claims that conservatives are under fire on social media platforms.

In addition to the president, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump Jr. have been among some of the Republicans to promote this narrative.

Claims of social media bias and censorship have also made their way to Congress. Lawmakers have held hearings on the so-called practice of “social media filtering” where right-wing personalties have been asked to testify about the discrimination they’ve supposedly faced at the hands of the companies.

The narrative is unlikely to go away anytime soon. The politicians and media outlets on the right that push it do not seem moved by the facts. Instead, they seem more interested in a narrative that resonates with and whips up the conservative base.

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5 Effective Ways to Run Facebook Ads A/B Tests

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Testing-and-Scaling-Facebook-Ads

Facebook Ads A/B Tests or split tests help them try different versions of ads with various campaign elements. This process helps them arrive at the best version for the organization’s target. 

A/B Tests offer a vast pool of resources to try out various versions. You may get caught up and lose your way to arriving at the best version in a limited time. To better understand this topic you can read the Facebook ad testing guide. Here are five effective ways to run Facebook Ads A/B Tests-

1) Start with the minimal number of variables

This approach will help you analyze the impact of a variable much better. The lesser the variables, the better will be the relevant results and more conclusive. Once you have various versions, you will need to run them through the A/B Significance Test to determine if the test results are valid.

2) The second way is to select the correct structure. 

There are two structures in A/B tests. One is a single ad test, and the other is multiple single variation ad sets. All the variations will go under one ad set in the first structure. Each variation will be under a separate ad set in the second one. Out of the two, the second one works out to be better and gives better results.

3) Use of spreadsheets is important to stay organized. 

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These spreadsheets help collect and analyze data to get meaningful insights and arrive at data-backed decisions.

4) Do target advertising and set realistic time goals. 

One approach is to choose an entirely new set of audiences. Also, the data pool should be vast and not the same as some existing campaigns. The reason for choosing a different audience is that Facebook may mix up your ads and give contaminated output. 

Another approach to choosing the right audience is to pick geography. It works better, especially when you have business in a particular region.   

It’s also essential to set a realistic timeline for your testing. Facebook suggests one should run a test for at least four days, but you can choose to run the test for up to 30 days.   

5) Set an ideal budget. 

The concept of a perfect budget is subjective. But, you can fix it yourself, or Facebook can do that for you based on your testing data. A large part of the test budget is spent on avoiding audience duplication. If the same audience sees variations, it could affect the test results.

Besides these top five effective ideas, you will need to take a few more action points to make the testing process efficient. Make sure you put the website’s domain link and not the landing page link in the ad, as that doesn’t look good. Put appropriate Call To Action Button, such as ‘Learn More,’ ‘Buy Now,’ etc. It’s also important to see how your ad is coming across on various electronic gadgets- mobile, tablets, etc.

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Another strategy that works is trying to engage the customer. You may add social engagement buttons such as ‘Like’ or ‘Comment.’ Use high-resolution images as they work better with the customers. Low-quality, highly edited images are often not liked and trusted by the consumers.

You can learn more about the audience behavior patterns with A/B test results. Conducting these tests on Facebook streamlines the entire process and makes it smooth for you. With the test results, advertisers and marketers can work on the creatives they need to utilize.

To sum it up, you can run an effective A/B test campaign within the specified budget. You don’t need to spend massive amounts to get your advertisement right. You’ll make the correct assumptions about the performance of variations with a good understanding of business and consumers.

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