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Democrats Have Spent $29 Million on Facebook Advertising, Rely on Big Tech’s Political Power

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Despite negative feelings from both sides of the aisle toward big tech companies, 2020 presidential candidates are still shelling out millions of dollars for Facebook advertising.

According to a report Monday from The Boston Globe, as of September, Democratic hopefuls had spent $29 million on Facebook advertising to get their names out amid a large field of candidates.

Additionally, Democrats spent $8.4 million on advertising on Google and YouTube, the report said.

A lot of this money is being spent by California billionaire Tom Steyer, who has spent $4.7 million on Facebook and Google advertising, according to CNN.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spent $3.2 million on Facebook and Google ads before suspending her campaign in August, the outlet reported.

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“It’s a necessity of politics that you be on Facebook now,” Matt Corridoni, Rep. Seth Moulton’s press secretary during the Massachusetts Democrat’s presidential run, said. “Republicans are doing the same thing.”

On the other side of the aisle, President Donald Trump still has spent a lot of money on advertisements, even though he doesn’t have a lot of competition at this point: $17 million for Facebook and $8.3 million for Google ads.

In recent months, Facebook has come under scrutiny for its evident anti-conservative bias and for how it handles people’s information. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has even called to break up Big Tech during her candidacy.

However, it is hard to deny the power that big tech companies have over public discourse, and they offer arguably one of the best ways to reach large audiences of potential voters and donors.

Do you pay attention to Facebook advertisements?

“The reason Facebook is such a powerful platform is that people volunteer all of this information about themselves,” Reid Vineisis, vice president of digital ad firm Majority Strategies, told The Globe.

And all that information people volunteer is why Facebook plays such a vital role in politics these days. Instead of guessing how to reach an audience, Facebook advertising uses user information to display personalized ads based on a user’s likes and information.

But, as The Globe points out, “you see the ad of whichever advertiser paid the most to catch your eye.”

“That social media audience doesn’t get larger, but the number of candidates competing for their attention does,” Corridoni said.

Interestingly enough, Facebook is a top contributor for two Democratic candidates: lawyer and entrepreneur Andrew Yang and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Peter Buttigieg.

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As of September, Facebook has given $11,712 to Yang, according to Open Secrets. The large social media platform has also given $63,051 to Buttigieg, according to the website.

Open Secrets data also show that Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, is a top contributor — having donated millions of dollars — to almost every major Democratic candidate, except for former Vice President Joe Biden.

What this means for the 2020 election remains to be seen, but candidates still see value in spending money on social media advertisements — pushing their policies directly to the voters.

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