Facebook Is Not a Big Player in National Politics

Brendan Nyhan has a warning for us about Facebook:

Nyhan’s point is that there’s no particular conservative bias in this list. I’d make a second point: Most of these posts aren’t partisan or political in the first place. Those of us who follow politics as a hobby think that it’s the most important thing in the world, but the rest of the world doesn’t agree. The readership of most political sites is tiny compared to the readership of sports blogs or mommy blogs or gossip blogs.

This is one of the reasons I’m untroubled about Facebook’s decision not to police political advertisements. I’m no fan of Facebook, but that’s mainly because of their dismal record on things like privacy and data portability. When it comes to political influence, however, there’s little reason to think they play an outsize role. On the contrary, their political influence is minuscule compared to Fox News and talk radio and Drudge and the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

We should be concerned about organized foreign influence on Facebook. We should be concerned about Facebook taking an active censorship role. We should be concerned about Facebook allowing third parties to use private information for political purposes. But taking a hands-off approach to political ads? On a scale of one to ten, it’s maybe a two at most. It’s just not worth getting worked up about.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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