On the one hand, you’ve got the Streisand Effect.
Facebook and Twitter’s frantic attempts to stop the spread of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story didn’t prevent the article from becoming the top story about the election on those platforms last week, according to data from NewsWhip.
By the numbers: The Post’s story generated 2.59m interactions (likes, comments, shares) on Facebook and Twitter last week — more than double the next biggest story about Trump or Biden.
5 of the 10 biggest stories were about the Hunter Biden story, the fallout, or how Facebook and Twitter reacted.
It was the 6th-most engaged article this month, trailing pieces like Trump testing positive for COVID-19 and Eddie Van Halen’s death.
83% of the interactions happened on Facebook, with the other 17% on Twitter.
But the suppression actually worked fairly well.
While Twitter’s actions had little impact on the reach of the story, data shows that Facebook’s suppression of the article caused it to reach roughly half the readers that major anti Trump scoops — like the Atlantic’s article on Trump’s alleged comments about American’s who died in war and The New York Times’ story on the president’s tax returns — did.
According to data compiled by Newswhip, which tracks such things, roughly 1.94 million people engaged with the Post’s Hunter Biden story in the first 24 hours after publishing, and a total of 2.12 million readers as of Sunday. In comparison, 3.69 people read the Atlantic article accusing Trump of calling fallen soldiers “losers and suckers,” in the first 24 hours of its publishing and 6.86 million people read the story as of Sunday. About 4.12 million people read the New York Times story on Trump’s tax returns in its first 24 hours, and 5.37 read it as of Sunday.
That’s not surprising because Facebook has far more reach than Twitter, and it has the demographic, older people, more likely to be Trump supporters or potential Trump supporters.
While Twitter’s blatant ham-handed suppression, furiously banning everyone while spewing random excuses, attracted attention and the Streisand Effect kicked in, causing Jack Dorsey to apologize, not for suppressing the story to help Biden win, but for the clumsy way it was done.
Google, much more slickly, throttled the story, and aside from Andy Stone’s gloating announcement, handled things much more quietly.
And it worked on that end.
How much do you want to bet that Facebook limited the reach of the story to people who had repeatedly interacted with conservative content, while keeping potential persuadable voters from seeing it?
That’s the big exit question.