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Facebook, trust and privacy in an election year: Balancing politics and advertising
Prior to the US 2020 presidential election, both Twitter and Google announced changes to their political advertising policies. This article explores trust and privacy issues relating to social media while evaluating current public opinion regarding political advertising on Facebook, which unlike Twitter and Google, has remained steadfast in its support for political advertising. The study uses a textual analysis of Twitter data collected from conversations in October 2019 to provide a snapshot of public rhetoric at this point in time. Results from the text analysis identify trends around the upcoming election, political advertising, Russia and Trump. Topics are further investigated using an online survey panel of 300 participants. ANOVA results indicate that privacy concerns are a key driver of desire to remove political advertising. The results suggest that user perception of Facebook advertising is decreasing as a result of privacy concerns related to trust in the platform. Political advertisers should therefore reevaluate their communication strategy with regard to Facebook advertising.
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Laura F. Bright is an Associate Professor of Media Analytics at the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations. Her research focuses on social media addiction and fatigue, Big Data and analytics, personalised advertising and digital privacy, and her work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals. She has spent over a decade working in the interactive advertising business and supports various companies and organisations to optimise their digital presence.
Kristen Leah Sussman is a doctoral student in the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations at the University of Texas at Austin, where she works as a Moody Fellow, teaching assistant and researcher. Sussman studies people and their behaviours in the areas of computer-mediated communication, social media and technology. Her research uses computational social science methods and contributes to scholarship that examines topics including media effects, privacy and political advertising, and engagement. Sussman has previously founded and owned one of the first social media agencies in Austin, TX.
Gary B. Wilcox is the John A. Beck Centennial Professor in Communication at the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations. He is also an associated faculty in the Department of Statistics & Data Sciences and the Center for Health Communication at UT Austin. Dr Wilcox holds a PhD from Michigan State University and two degrees from UT Austin. His recent research interests include unstructured data analysis, social media analytic models and advertising’s effects on alcohol products and brands.