Facebook’s new decision on what will be its role in the next presidential campaign could have a significant impact on the outcome of the presidential race.
The social media giant said that for future presidential campaigns, it will no longer provide the kind of on-site help that it gave Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential elections, Bloomberg has reported.
Facebook said that while it will still provide technical support and basic training to political organizations and candidate campaigns, it will not visit headquarters with as much frequency or give the same strategic support it provided Trump before the 2016 election.
Facebook will instead focus on improving its political advertising website, politics.fb.com, so it can provide free information to elected officials and political campaigns. The company will also have employees provide basic training on using Facebook’s products and navigating the ads authorization process.
What appeared to be a strategic support that Donald Trump received from the social network was subjected to scrutiny by Congress. The company was placed in hot water when it was asked to answer questions from lawmakers about whether it provided more support to Trump than his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
Brad Parscale, the Democrat’s digital director in 2016, has said that he was able to get pro-Trump “embeds” from the social network to help him on strategy. Parscale told the CBS TV show 60 Minutes that the extra help from Facebook was crucial to Trump’s victory.
“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 told 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl.
Facebook told Congress that it offered the same support to both of Trump’s and Clinton’s campaigns, but while Trump’s campaign accepted Facebook’s offer, Clinton’s did not. According to Politico, Clinton’s campaign opted to develop its own digital apparatus and had tech firm help execute the elements of the strategy.
An internal company analysis obtained by Bloomberg cited that the Trump campaign spent $44 million in ad purchases from June to November 2016. Clinton’s campaign, on the other hand, spent $28 million, during the same period.
It is not yet clear if Trump will use a similar strategy for his 2020 campaign, which is run by Parscale. To date, the campaign is not working as closely with Facebook as it did two years ago, but a person familiar with Trump’s strategy said that the possibility is not ruled out.