Social media and advertising giant Facebook will scale back on sending employees to give a hand to political advertisers, something the company did with the Trump campaign in 2016.
The company will still give political campaigns and advocacy groups technical support, Bloomberg reports. But it won’t offer as much strategic help as it did in 2016.
According to CNBC:
Facebook, Twitter, and Google served as “quasi-digital consultants” to U.S. election campaigns in 2016, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Utah found in a paper published a year ago.
The companies helped campaigns navigate their services’ ad systems and “actively” shaped campaign communication by suggesting what types of messages to direct to whom, the researchers stated.
Facebook’s involvement with Trump’s campaign drew scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers after the company found its user data had separately been misused by political data firm Cambridge Analytica, which consulted for the Trump campaign.
According to Bloomberg:
The social network was forced to answer questions from U.S. lawmakers about whether it was more supportive of Trump than his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, after Brad Parscale, the Republican’s 2016 digital director, said he was able to get pro-Trump “embeds” from Facebook to help him on strategy. The extra help was crucial to Trump’s win, Parscale told the CBS news show “60 Minutes.”
Facebook told Congress it “offered identical support” to both campaigns. Trump’s campaign accepted, and Clinton’s didn’t. At the time, the company also disputed the use of the word “embed” to describe the relationship.
In an internal company analysis, obtained by Bloomberg earlier this year, a Facebook data scientist explained that Trump’s effort was “more complex than Clinton’s and better leveraged Facebook’s ability to optimize for outcomes.” The report cited $44 million in ad purchases by the Trump campaign from June to November 2016, compared with $28 million by Clinton.