Is Facebook now at war with Trump?
Even if they did face a similar decline, it would not be comparable in terms of impact. As the graph above shows, they are far less successful on Facebook than President Trump, which means they have far less to lose. Currently, any change that reduces the reach or engagement of public figures on Facebook will disproportionately affect Trump when compared to public figures with much lower engagement.
In a comment to Breitbart News, Facebook appeared to acknowledge that their algorithm change might have caused Trump’s engagement numbers to fall. A Facebook representative highlighted the following section of their post announcing the algorithm change:
Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it.
Facebook’s algorithm change came after a year of pressure from the media, politicians, and employees inside Facebook following the election of Donald Trump. Facebook was accused of helping Trump win the election, spreading Russian propaganda and fake news, and creating partisan echo chambers.
In a piece entitled “Inside Facebook’s Two Years of Hell,” Wired highlighted the threat from legislators with a foreboding quote from Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. “You’ve created these platforms, and now they’re being misused, and you have to be the ones to do something about it … or we will.”
Mark Zuckerberg drew curiosity from the media when he said recent changes to the platform would cause users to spend less time on Facebook — and that this was intentional. Why would any social media company want users to spend less time on their platform? At the time, Slate suggested that the company had been so battered by a year of public scrutiny over its political influence that it was now choosing to abdicate that influence by making the platform less lucrative for political figures.