A look at the various media used to reach and inform voters during elections -- as well as the impact of new media and media ownership on elections.
Elections and Media
Tensions between President Donald Trump and Twitter escalated as he threatened to "strongly regulate" or shut down social media platforms, which he accused of silencing conservative viewpoints. President Trump's threat came the day after Twitter added a fact-check warning to his tweets claiming that mail-in ballots are fraudulent. "Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices," President Trump tweeted the morning of May 27. "We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.
The heavily regulated world of political advertising on broadcast TV stands in stark contrast to the wild west of political advertising online. Broadcast TV is subject to strict rules on recordkeeping and disclosure, as well as limits on who can buy such ads and how much they can be charged. In contrast, social media companies, like print publications, are free to adopt whatever standards they want for paid political messaging. But given the opaque sourcing of online political ads and their potential virality, should we apply broadcast rules to online ads?
President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is suing a Wisconsin TV station for running an anti-Trump commercial that pieces together audio clips of the president talking about the coronavirus outbreak in a way they argue is misleading and false. The ad by the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA features a series of soundbites in which Trump downplayed the threat posed by the virus, while a chart that is splashed across the screen gradually begins to shoot upward as cases of the virus skyrocketed across the US.
Joe Biden has remained relatively quiet on tech. But here's a look at where he stands. On net neutrality, Biden hasn't said much. A spokesman for Biden's campaign said the former vice president is a supporter of strong net neutrality protections. But Biden's track record tells a different story.
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s stance on network neutrality has remained somewhat of an open question for more than a year as he’s become the front runner to take on President Donald Trump later in 2020. Questions about why Biden did not bring up the issue have been raised as other candidates have forcefully pushed their views during the Democratic primary. Many have even detailed exactly how they would restore a policy achievement made by a White House Biden was a part of.
The Donald Trump re-election campaign told TV stations they could lose their operating licenses for airing an ad criticizing the president’s actions in the coronavirus crisis -- a challenge that may be more bluster than actual threat. President Donald Trump’s campaign, in a letter on March 25, told stations in five battleground states to stop showing the ad from Priorities USA, a political action committee that supports Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Failure to remove the ad “could put your station’s license in jeopardy” before the Federal Communications Commission, the campaign said.
Twitter recently rolled out a new policy aimed at “manipulated media.” Its first target: a 13-second clip tweeted by Dan Scavino, White House director of social media, featuring [out of context words from Joe Biden]. The Biden campaign quickly denounced the video as “disinformation” and pressured both Twitter and Facebook to take it down. Twitter slapped the manipulated-media label on it. Facebook put a “partly false” screen over it. The debate that followed helped earn the clip millions of views.
Twitter recently rolled out a new policy aimed at “manipulated media.” Its first target: a 13-second clip tweeted by Dan Scavino, White House director of social media, featuring Joe Biden. The Biden campaign quickly denounced the video as “disinformation” and pressured both Twitter and Facebook to take it down. Twitter slapped the manipulated-media label on it. Facebook put a “partly false” screen over it. The debate that followed helped earn the clip millions of views. Imagine going after President Lyndon B.
If we have to suspend or otherwise modify political campaigning because of coronavirus, social media will become even more important and the fissures it creates even more painful. We should expect the platform companies such as Facebook and Google to step up to this national emergency—but can we?
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg broke no law when he paid campaign workers $2,500 a month to promote his candidacy from their personal social media accounts without requiring them to disclose this sponsorship. After Twitter suspended 70 of these accounts for “platform manipulation,” his campaign voluntarily asked its workers to identify themselves on their social media accounts.