Republicans aren’t just attacking Facebook, Google and Twitter over allegations that they are biased against conservatives. They’re increasingly raising money off the claims, too.
High-profile GOP candidates and campaigns, including Trump’s 2020 reelection effort, historically have blitzed social media with ads alleging that those sites are censoring them and their allies. Their efforts illustrate a hard truth about Wednesday’s congressional hearing: Republicans’ interest in Silicon Valley is as much about politics as it is policy.
The fundraising activities have been on full display on Facebook, which compiles a cache of ads that run on its service — data that shows the right has great reach with its paid political speech. The most prolific of the lot is Trump and his campaign, which regularly have taken to the world’s largest social network to rile supporters about allegations of conservative bias.
“BREAKING NEWS: Twitter wants to censor YOU,” read one collection of 132 ads commissioned by the Trump campaign into September that featured a video of the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. and led viewers to a site that asked for donations.
“Silicon Valley Elites shouldn’t get to dictate what you say,” the ad continued. “They will stop at NOTHING to silence us.”
The Trump campaign long has run such ads, and it has paid for similar spots recently on Vice President Pence’s Facebook page, the data shows. But it is not only Trump trying to monetize the attacks on tech giants: Conservative-leaning groups, including the Heritage Foundation, and Republican elected officials, including Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), similarly have sought to activate supporters over claims of bias in recent years, the data shows.
Cruz, for his part, is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and questioned the tech executives Wednesday. But he and other Republicans are limited in their ability to raise money off the hearing, as Facebook this week began enforcing a political-advertising blackout ahead of Election Day.