A Virginia Tech Master’s Thesis: Trending in the Right Direction: Using Google Trends Data as a Measure of Public Opinion During a Presidential Election. “During the 2016 presidential election, public opinion polls consistently showed a lead in the popular vote and Electoral College for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Following Trump’s surprise victory, the political pundits and public at large began to question the accuracy of modern public opinion polling. Fielding a representative sample, convoluted and opaque methodologies, the sheer amount of polls, and both the media’s and general public’s inability to interpret poll results are among the flaws of the polling industry. An alternative or supplement to traditional polling practices is necessary. This thesis seeks to investigate whether Google Trends can be effectively used as a measure of public opinion during presidential elections. This study gathers polling data from the 2016 presidential election from states that were considered swing states. Specifically, this study examines six total polls, three from states that swung in the way the polls predicted they would – Nevada and Virginia – and three from states that swung against the prediction – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.” Click on the View/Open link to get the whole thesis as a PDF.
Digital Content Next: Facebook’s political ad disclosures are a train wreck in progress. “So far… the disclosure rules at Facebook are not just a work in progress, but more of a train wreck in progress, as flaws with Facebook’s new rules are already emerging. The social giant was supposed to archive all political ads publicly but missed some, and critics have complained that they aren’t giving enough information about how the ads are targeted. And some many publishers are getting caught up in the rules and can’t boost their own political stories on Facebook without jumping through hoops. An effort by the News Media Alliance to get publishers whitelisted has started, but so far Facebook doesn’t have plans to do that. It’s clear that more overarching, consistent rules across social media and the web — not just from Facebook and other tech giants — are needed to monitor political ads on the internet.”
Inequality: BlackHer – A New Online Platform Raises the Voices of Black Women Politically and Economically. “With only 19 African-American women in Congress – representing a paltry 3.5 percent of both chambers – this year, Black women are ready to see a return on their investment. Taking matters into their own hands, Black women are ramping up their efforts to increase their political representation. Pushing forward with this movement is BlackHer, an online platform with the mission to provide resources and important information that highlights the visible and loud chorus of African American women that can shift elections, shape consumerism, and reinvent America’s broken systems.”
BuzzFeed: The New Twitter Detectives Want To Bring Down Trump Without Becoming Alex Jones. “Just after 3 a.m. last Friday morning, Huffington Post contributor and progressive advocate Alex Mohajer set to work on a brief investigative project on Twitter. Pulling together red marker–circled articles, graphs, and screenshots from numerous financial websites, he rifled off 16 tweets with prosecutorial zeal and one ambitious goal: to build a compelling case linking Donald Trump to Russia’s $11 billion sale of its oil giant, Rosneft.”
Forbes: Google Pulls Washington Election Ads, Says It can’t Comply With New Rules. “Google has pulled all state and local election ads in Washington state, saying its systems can’t cope with new disclosure rules. The state Public Disclosure Commission recently approved new transparency rules which come into effect today. It requires platforms like Google to release details of political ads including the geographical locations and types of audience being targeted, as well as the number of views the ads receive.”
New York Times: Facebook Tried to Rein In Fake Ads. It Fell Short in a California Race.. “Regina Bateson had just finished an Easter egg hunt with her children on April 1 when her phone started buzzing. Take a look at Facebook, messages from her friends and colleagues urged. Ms. Bateson, a Democrat running for Congress in the California primary on Tuesday, quickly opened up the social network. There, she saw what appeared to be a news article that painted her as underhandedly trying to torpedo the campaign of a rival Democratic candidate. When Ms. Bateson clicked through the article, she was directed to a Facebook page run by Sierra Nevada Revolution, a local progressive group she had clashed with in the past.”
Center for Cooperative Media: What small publishers need to know about Facebook’s policy on ads with political content. “Facebook’s definition of ‘political content’ is broad, potentially sweeping up any promoted news and information on the platform that relates to civic matters…. To shine a light on the process, Facebook’s Julia Smekalina and Varun Shetty (News Partnerships) held a webinar with publishers on May 30, during which they answered questions directly from representatives from the media. I attended on behalf of the Center for Cooperative Media, which coordinates with groups including the Local Independent Online News Publishers and the Institute for Nonprofit News. The following are my takeaways for news publishers, beginning with Facebook’s definition of political content and my understanding of how content is being reviewed.”