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Facebook employees ’embedded’ in Trump campaign digital media operation

Republican Facebook employees embedded with the Trump campaign to help the then-candidate fine tune ads on the platform, according to an interview with Trump campaign digital media director Brad Parscale on 60 Minutes that will run Sunday.

Parscale says most of the campaign’s digital ad budget was used on Facebook ads and that the campaign found them to be particularly helpful in reaching rural voters in states like Florida.

“Twitter is how [Trump] talked to the people, Facebook was going to be how he won,” Parscale says in the interview. “Facebook lets you get to…15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for.”

Parscale tells 60 Minutes that the campaign ran an average of 50,000 to 60,000 ad versions every day, with different designs, colors, backgrounds, and words. Some days, Parscale says, they peaked at 100,000 different ad iterations.

Parscale and the rest of the Trump campaign were able to utilize the ads the way they did because of help from Facebook employees.

According to Parscale, Facebook provided employees to the campaign who worked out of Parscale’s office multiple days a week. Parscale says he used only Republican employees and wanted them to be partisan if they were going to work for the campaign.

“I wanted people who supported Donald Trump,” he says, adding that he calls the employees “embeds” and that they taught him everything about the technology.

“I want to know everything you would tell Hillary’s campaign plus some,” Parscale says he told them.

Parscale also says he heard the Clinton campaign, which also used Facebook advertising extensively, did not use embeds and turned down Facebook’s offers to have employees essentially join the campaign.

There is some irony in how successful the embeds were, Parscale says, saying that Facebook and other social platforms were invented by “very liberal people” on both coasts, while they used the platforms to get a Republican in the Oval Office.

Although Parscale no longer works for Trump, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who now works as a senior adviser to the president, was closely involved in the digital media aspects of the campaign, and investigators are looking into whether Kushner helped the Russians to use digital media to undermine Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign

Facebook’s role in the 2016 election is still becoming clear, but ThinkProgress has reported extensively about how fake Russian accounts helped propel Trump to the presidency and undermined the Clinton campaign.

In a new report published Saturday, ThinkProgress’ Casey Michel and Luke Barnes detail how fake Russian Facebook accounts played both sides and amplified discord on the platform about gun rights, same-sex marriage, and other social issues.

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