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Facebook, trust and privacy in an election year: Balancing politics and advertising

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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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Keywords: Facebook; misinformation; online advertising; online trust; political advertising; privacy; public opinion

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations, Moody College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin 2: Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations, Moody College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin 3: John A. Beck Centennial Professor in Communication, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations, Moody College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin

Publication date: January 1, 2021

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  • Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing is the essential peer-reviewed, professional journal for all those involved in the marketing of products or services using digital channels. Its overriding goal is to provide an authoritative, practitioner-focused forum to support the professional development of all those working in, or entering, the field. As such, the Journal's content is both of direct relevance to the practice of digital marketing and intellectually rigorous.

    Topics range from measuring and improving digital media effectiveness and ROI to search engine optimisation, from social media marketing to partner marketing, from mobile marketing to email marketing, website design, display advertising, pay per click and detailed marketing analytics. In short the Journal focuses on any of the established and emerging digital media, tools and practices requiring new approaches to marketing, branding and understanding customer behavior and attitudes.

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