Every day now the Donald Trump campaign is inundating social media with pugnacious ads. Google and its subsidiaries, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are chock-a-block with thematic narratives that pit the president against hot-button bad guys like invading immigrants and evil reporters. These fairy tale ads take advantage of social media algorithms that are tilted towards controversy and outrage — and the fact that political ads are under no constraints to tell even a shred of truth, or back up their claims with any kind of authority. It’s a no-holds-barred funhouse environment, where the best campaign is also the worst campaign.
Both Republicans and Democrats admit as much, but so far it’s the Republicans and their heavy war chests that are winning the anything-goes game on social media because they’re willing to outspend Democratic politicians by three-to-one.
Democrats in Congress say that they haven’t got the kind of money for social media advertising that the Trump campaign has been able to drum up in the last four months. And many legislators who are up for reelection in 2020 are saving their campaign funds for local newspaper, radio, and television advertising, disdaining to use the internet — which admittedly reaches millions more than a local ad can, but which many politicians think is a waste of money if what they need is to influence local voters and not the entire world.