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Facebook exec claims Trump paid more for 2016 election ads than Clinton

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A Facebook executive has published details on how much US presidential election candidates paid to reach potential voters on the social media platform in 2016. Critics say Trump was rewarded for provocative and divisive content.

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Andrew Bosworth, the executive in charge of ads during the 2016 election, posted a chart to his Twitter feed Tuesday. “After some discussion we’ve decided to share the CPM comparison on Trump campaign ads vs. Clinton campaign ads,” Bosworth wrote.

After some discussion we've decided to share the CPM comparison on Trump campaign ads vs. Clinton campaign ads. This chart shows that during general election period, Trump campaign paid slightly higher CPM prices on most days rather than lower as has been reported. pic.twitter.com/u0qgUQ02qM

— Boz (@boztank) February 27, 2018

CPM refers to the cost per thousand impressions and it is how price is typically measured for digital ad campaigns. “This chart shows that during [the] general election period, [the] Trump campaign paid slightly higher CPM prices on most days rather than lower as has been reported,” he added.

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Bosworth’s chart covers the period from June 21 to November 8, 2016. During that time, President Donald Trump’s CPM rate appears at times dramatically higher than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s. Earlier this month, a Wired report suggested that Trump got a better deal on Facebook ads because his page drove more interactions, which, in turn, drove down the cost. Critics of the social media giant feared that the platform’s algorithms rewarded Trump for his more provocative and divisive content. However, the chart published by Bosworth seems to show this was not the case.

Prices depend on factors like size of audience and campaign objective. These campaigns had different strategies. Given the recent discussion about pricing we're putting this out to clear up any confusion.

— Boz (@boztank) February 27, 2018

Former Trump campaign advisor Brad Parscale appeared to confirm the findings of the Wired report, tweeting that then-candidate Trump had “CPMs that were pennies in some cases,” adding that Trump had been the “perfect candidate for Facebook.”

I bet we were 100x to 200x her. We had CPMs that were pennies in some cases. This is why @realDonaldTrump was a perfect candidate for FaceBook.

— Brad Parscale (@parscale) February 24, 2018

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That message was then picked up by TechCrunch contributor Kim-Mai Cutler, and her tweet was shared by Clinton, who cited the report as the reason why social media should be stringently regulated during election periods.

I can’t believe this tweet isn’t going viral. Do people not really care that Facebook may have systematically charged the Clinton campaign an order of magnitude or two more than it was charging Trump to reach American voters? (Which is not allowed in other mediums by law.) https://t.co/S2OgxfgcGq

— Kim-Mai Cutler (@kimmaicutler) February 25, 2018

We should all care about how social media platforms play a part in our democratic process. Because unless it’s addressed it will happen again. The midterms are in 8 months. We owe it to our democracy to get this right, and fast. https://t.co/aM3pRrZW4J

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 27, 2018

Responding to the Bosworth tweets, another Wired report claims the Facebook executive’s graphic failed to shed light on whether Trump’s sensationalist ads had any effect on CPMs, as it contained no information about the content of ads on the charted days. For his part, Bosworth claims that Facebook wants to reveal more information about campaign spending on the platform, but he needs the campaigns’ permission to do so.

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