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Politics in the Facebook Era Evidence from the 2016 US Presidential Elections


  • Liberini, Federica

    (ETH Zurich, Department of Economics)

  • Redoano, Michela

    (University of Warwick, Department of Economics)

  • Russo, Antonio

    (ETH Zurich,Department of Economics)

  • Cuevas, Angel

    (University Carlos III, Department of Telematic Engeneering)

  • Cuevas, Ruben

    (University Carlos III, Department of Telematic Engeneering)


Social media enable politicians to personalize their campaigns and target voters who may be decisive for the outcome of elections. We assess the effects of such political "micro-targeting" by exploiting variation in daily advertising prices on Facebook, collected during the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. We analyze the variation of prices across political ideologies and propose a measure for the intensity of online political campaigns. Combining this measure with information from the ANES electoral survey, we address two fundamental questions: (i) To what extent did political campaigns use social media to micro-target voters? (ii) How large was the effect, if any, on voters who were heavily exposed to campaigning on social media? We find that online political campaigns targeted on users' gender, geographic location, and political ideology had a signi cant e ect in persuading undecided voters to support Mr Trump, and in persuading Republican supporters to turn out on polling day. Moreover the effect of micro-targeting on Facebook was strongest among users without university or college-level education.

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  • Liberini, Federica & Redoano, Michela & Russo, Antonio & Cuevas, Angel & Cuevas, Ruben, 2018. "Politics in the Facebook Era Evidence from the 2016 US Presidential Elections," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1181, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:wrk:warwec:1181

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Anna Kerkhof & Johannes Münster, 2021. "Detecting Coverage Bias in User-Generated Content," CESifo Working Paper Series 8844, CESifo.
    3. Maria Abreu & Özge Öner, 2020. "Disentangling the Brexit vote: The role of economic, social and cultural contexts in explaining the UK’s EU referendum vote," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 52(7), pages 1434-1456, October.
    4. van Gils, Freek & Müller, Wieland & Prüfer, Jens, 2020. "Big Data and Democracy," Discussion Paper 2020-003, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    5. Anna Kerkhof & Johannes Münster, 2021. "Detecting coverage bias in user-generated content," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 057, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    6. Sarah Spiekermann & Hanna Krasnova & Oliver Hinz & Annika Baumann & Alexander Benlian & Henner Gimpel & Irina Heimbach & Antonia Köster & Alexander Maedche & Björn Niehaves & Marten Risius & Manuel Tr, 2022. "Values and Ethics in Information Systems," Business & Information Systems Engineering: The International Journal of WIRTSCHAFTSINFORMATIK, Springer;Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI), vol. 64(2), pages 247-264, April.
    7. Giacomo De Luca & Thilo R. Huning & Paulo Santos Monteiro, 2021. "Britain has had enough of experts? Social networks and the Brexit referendum," Discussion Papers 21/01, Department of Economics, University of York.
    8. Spiekermann, Sarah & Krasnova, Hanna & Hinz, Oliver & Baumann, Annika & Benlian, Alexander & Gimpel, Henner & Heimbach, Irina & Köster, Antonia & Maedche, Alexander & Niehaves, Björn & Risius, Marten , 2022. "Values and Ethics in Information Systems – A State-of-the-Art Analysis and Avenues for Future Research," Publications of Darmstadt Technical University, Institute for Business Studies (BWL) 130842, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute for Business Studies (BWL).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • M37 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Advertising
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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