Bogost and Madrigal in The Atlantic, from 18 April 2020. A digital rhetorician looks at how Facebook’s AI handles trump’s branding. A look at how the FB algorithm operates meets and the changes in Advertising and Marketing 101. Rhetoric mechanized.
His campaign did so via pure, blunt constancy, using Facebook in exactly the way the tech giant intended: pouring heaps of money and data into Facebook’s automated advertising system.
This is tech used as it was designed: to make pots of money by offering constant exposure.
A “Facebook ad” is less an ad and more a machine for producing ads. Instead of paying to put particular media in front of a specific audience, an advertiser now pays Facebook to deliver a selected outcome from a certain stripe of people.
Trump’s interest in FB is the same as any other advertiser on FB. He’s in the FB ad-machine. His ads feed into the algorithm that targets viewers: and once your’e in, you can’t get out.
This is a look at both how the FB ad machine works, and how trump’s campaign interacts with it. As in
People have marveled that Trump never stopped running Facebook-ad campaigns. And the reason is, he couldn’t. The whole point is that the campaign has to keep fresh data flowing through the system. Most of the time, it can optimize for the cost of acquisitions, hoovering up money and data from the Facebook users it targets. Then, at strategic moments, the team reverses the machine, spending whatever money is required to get the highest penetration and the widest reach among their people.
It’s a matter of a campaign ceding control to the FB AI. On both ends.
Users—who are also citizens—similarly have no way out. Letting Facebook do its thing has become a requirement for electoral politics, and democracy’s future is entwined with the results.
The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.