Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
Soon after President Donald Trump was inaugurated in 2017, Breitbart appeared to be on the ropes.
BuzzFeed exposed its star writer’s ties to white nationalists. The site embarrassingly attacked accusers of alleged pedophile and failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Onetime Trump adviser Steve Bannon stepped down after daring to question the president. Seemingly plummeting traffic numbers fueled a narrative of decline.
But Breitbart still had Facebook. And its influence on the platform, which will be key in Trump’s reelection campaign, has been massive during the impeachment fight.
Breitbart has drawn more likes, comments, and shares than CNN’s main page in each of the past three months, according to the analytics firm CrowdTangle. Users have interacted with Breitbart’s posts 20 percent more often than CNN’s primary account over that period, despite having just one-eighth the following.
“We’ve been dominating in our neck of the woods,” Breitbart Editor Alex Marlow told VICE News.
“We’ve been dominating in our neck of the woods.”
It means more reach for Breitbart’s ideas, more fuel for Breitbart’s business, and more eyeballs for Facebook’s $55 billion targeted advertising machine. The upshot is that an “overwhelmingly pro-Trump” outlet — Marlow’s words — is gobbling up an outsized portion of Americans’ mindshare as local media atrophies and more national outlets move behind paywalls.
Engagements, a rough gauge of user attention, are a key metric for Facebook. The CrowdTangle data suggest Breitbart has aptly gamed that incentive structure, offering a snapshot of how the platform shapes the broader ecosystem for news. A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment on the dynamic.
With just 4 million followers, Breitbart’s page racked up more likes, comments, and shares since Sept. 1 (57.8 million) than The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today combined (42.6 million). It outpaced each of the broadcast news networks, MSNBC, and CNN. CNN Spokesman Matt Dornic rejected the comparison in a statement to VICE News.
“By comparing the engagement metrics of Breitbart to those of actual news outlets, you’re insinuating they produce journalism. And that’s a mistake,” Dornic said. “Breitbart produces outrage and propaganda, which will obviously evoke more passion and emotion than news and information.”
Fox News has pulled similar levers on Facebook to get an even more engagement, juicing its immensely profitable TV news business. “I know Fox News has this massive state of the art newsroom where they’re pulling in feeds from all over the country from their local affiliates,” Marlow said. “We don’t have any of that…We’re hanging with them.”
Emotion is currency on Facebook, which serves users more posts from pages the more they engage with them. But comments are particularly valuable to News Feed rankings, a spokesperson said, and Fox News and Breitbart have both prioritized them.
Brietbart’s top three Facebook posts in November were all open discussion threads with banal questions. “SHOULD REP. ADAM SCHIFF RESIGN AND BE INVESTIGATED?” one Nov. 15 post screamed. The next day, the page asked, “DO YOU STILL SUPPORT PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP AFTER THIS WEEK’S IMPEACHMENT HEARING?” It posed nearly the exact same inquiry four days later. Cue hundreds of thousands of likes, comments, and shares.
Breitbart gets a disproportionate slice of its engagement on these static images — memes — most of which don’t link back to Breitbart’s site. “It’s a bigger win if they’re going straight to the website,” Marlow said. “But we do look at it as a more holistic approach for developing the brand.”
Most media businesses need that referral traffic to drive advertising or subscription revenue. But it’s unclear whether Breitbart, which has been the target of rolling ad boycotts in response to incendiary content about immigrants and others, has the same profit motives as most media businesses. Marlow claimed he doesn’t know whether his site is in the black.
The GOP megadonor Mercer family reportedly funded Breitbart to the tune of $10 million in previous years, though their relationship with the site now is hazy. Robert Mercer said he would distance himself after Milo Yiannopoulos was exposed rubbing shoulders with neo-Nazis in 2017. A spokeswoman declined to comment on any ownership changes since that year, when it disclosed shared control by the Mercers, CEO Larry Solov, and Susie Breitbart, Andrew Breitbart’s widow.
Through it all, cratering audience numbers seemed to suggest Breitbart’s moment as the house organ of Trumpism was over. The analytics firm comScore reported that traffic to the site shrunk from nearly 23 million unique visitors in November 2016 to 5.2 million in October 2019.
But measuring media influence is notoriously difficult, and the SEC charged comScore with fraud for inflating its own numbers this year. The Amazon-owned Alexa service still ranks Breitbart as the 68th most highly trafficked website in America, larger than NBC News and The Wall Street Journal. Marlow said that it still draws about 20 million readers to its site a month, in addition to its audience on social media and SiriusXM radio.
Facebook, which has said it wants to support quality reporting and content that brings communities together, has been a big part of that reach. The company also drew widespread condemnation in October when it said it would include Breitbart as an unpaid partner in a forthcoming tab for quality news.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg essentially defended the move as a diversity hire. “I think you want to have content that represents different perspectives, but is doing so in a way that complies with the standards that we have for this,” he said.
It was an odd look given that, even aside from the scandals, much of Breitbart’s work comprises rapid-fire blogs with tabloidized headlines that gravitate toward owning the libs or stanning for the president. “The dream politician in the Breitbart world is Trump on the campaign trail in 2016,” Marlow said.
Despite the evidence showing Facebook’s deference to that worldview, Marlow argued that Big Tech is still biased against the right in its content moderation. He pointed to a Harvard study that highlighted Breitbart’s key role in making 2016 all about immigration, claiming without much in the way of evidence that Facebook tweaked its algorithm to down-rank conservative media as a result.
“There’s obviously some manipulation,” he said of the tech platforms where his site has massive clout. “I think it’s crystal clear.”
Cover image: A man holds an iPad showing the Breitbart website on November 10, 2017. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
This article originally appeared on VICE US.
IS claims killing of 3 female media workers in Afghanistan – CTV News
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the killing of three women working for a local radio and TV station in eastern Afghanistan, the latest in a spike in targeted killings across the war-tor country. Dozens of people gathered Wednesday for the funerals of the three media workers.
The women were gunned down on Tuesday in separate attacks, according to the news editor of the privately owned station and officials in Nangarhar province.
Afghan officials said police arrested the alleged killer of the three, identifying him as Qari Baser and insisting he was a Taliban — a claim promptly denied by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Nangarhar police chief, Gen. Juma Gul Hemat, said Baser had used a pistol with a silencer in the attacks. He was arrested shortly after the attacks by police in Jalalabad, the provincial capital.
The IS claim, posted late Tuesday, contradicted the Afghan government’s accusations against the Taliban. The militants said the three female journalists were targeted because they worked for one of the “media stations loyal to the apostate Afghan government” in Jalalabad.
It was not the first attack against women working at the Enikass Radio and TV. In December, IS claimed the killing of another female employee there, Malala Maiwand.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned Tuesday’s attack, saying that assaults on “innocent compatriots, especially women, are contrary to the teachings of Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of peace.”
Afghanistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media workers. Tuesday’s killings brought to 15 the number of media workers killed in Afghanistan in the last six months.
The slaying’s of the women are part of a larger spike in targeted killings in Afghanistan in the past year, coinciding with the signing of a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban in February 2020. The Taliban have denied involvement in most of the targeted killings. Both the Taliban and the government blame the other for staging the attacks to discredit the peace deal or leverage greater concessions.
The Biden administration is reviewing the deal which calls for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops by May 1. Officials say no decision has been made .
Shokrullah Pasoon of Enikass Radio and TV in Jalalabad — the station the women worked for — said one of them, Mursal Wahidi, was walking home when gunmen opened fire, according to eyewitnesses. The other two, whom he identified only as Shahnaz and Sadia, were shot and killed in a separate incident, also walking home from work. Two other people, apparently passersby, were wounded in the shooting attack.
The three women dubbed popular and often emotion-laden dramas from Turkey and India into Afghanistan’s local languages of Dari and Pashtu, added Pasoon, the station’s news editor.
Enikass Radio and TV is a privately owned outlet that broadcasts “news, various political, social, Islamic, educational, satirical, and engaging programs and standard dubbing of serials and movies for the people of Afghanistan,” according to its website.
Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.
InvestorChannel's Media Watchlist Update for Tuesday, March, 02, 2021, 16:00 EST – InvestorIntel
InvestorChannel’s Media Stocks Watchlist Update video includes the Top 5 Performers of the Day, and a performance review of the companies InvestorChannel is following in the sector.
Sources Include: Yahoo Finance, AlphaVantage FinnHub & CSE.
For more information, visit us at InvestorIntel.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Quizam Media Corp (QQ.CN) 0.58 (11.54%)n- Network Media Group Inc (NTE.V) CAD 0.18 (6.06%)n- WOW! Unlimited Media Inc (WOW.V) CAD 0.52 (4.00%)n- Wix.com Ltd (WIX) USD 342.94 (0.71%)n- ZoomerMedia Limited (ZUM.V) CAD 0.11 (0.00%)n- Postmedia Network Canada Corp (PNC-A.TO) CAD 1.60 (0.00%)n- Media Central Corp Inc (FLYY.CN) 0.02 (0.00%)n- Lingo Media Corp (LM.V) CAD 0.08 (0.00%)n- GVIC Communications Corp. (GCT.TO) CAD 0.35 (0.00%)n- Slack Technologies Inc (WORK) USD 40.92 (-0.46%)n- Corus Entertainment Inc. (CJR-B.TO) CAD 5.55 (-0.54%)n- Adobe Inc. (ADBE) USD 466.59 (-0.63%)n- Stingray Group Inc (RAY-A.TO) CAD 6.86 (-1.58%)n- HubSpot Inc (HUBS) USD 517.39 (-1.75%)n- MediaValet Inc (MVP.V) CAD 2.65 (-3.64%)n- Thunderbird Entertainment Group Inc (TBRD.V) CAD 3.95 (-4.36%)n- QYOU Media Inc (QYOU.V) CAD 0.32 (-4.55%)n- Moovly Media Inc (MVY.V) CAD 0.60 (-6.25%)n- Zoom Video Communications Inc (ZM) USD 372.79 (-9.00%)n- Glacier Media Inc. (GVC.TO) CAD 0.40 (-9.09%)n
THINKING OUT LOUD WITH SHELDON MacLEOD: Mining social media for pandemic impacts – TheChronicleHerald.ca
Researchers at Dalhousie University are using Artificial Intelligence to analyze millions of tweets to identify trends that could help inform public health policy. Dr. Rita Orji describes how they can predict where people are emotionally based on what they say on their social media platforms.
Sheldon MacLeod has been a broadcast professional for close to 30 years. Eyewitness to the transition from 45s and magnetic tape to CDs, MP3s, computers, websites, blogs and the worldwide web. And through all of the technology one thing remains constant: the satisfaction of sharing compelling stories with other humans. The responsibility of knowing better, is doing better. Sheldon is based in Halifax, N.S. Reach out to Sheldon at [email protected].
Cells taken from aborted fetuses for COVID-19 vaccines cause moral dilemma for some Canadian Catholics – 680 News
Democrats confront a harsh political choice: Save the filibuster or pass Biden's agenda – NBC News
After worst year on record, Canadian economy enters 2021 with double digit growth – CTV News
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Galaxy M31 July 2020 security update brings Glance, a content-driven lockscreen wallpaper service
Sports19 hours ago
Oilers’ Chiasson to have hearing for cross-checking Maple Leafs’ Vesey
Sports11 hours ago
Raptors rule out several players due to ‘health and safety protocols’ for Detroit game Wednesday – CityNews Toronto
Health7 hours ago
BC may not need second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to lift some restrictions: Dr. Henry | News – Daily Hive
Real eState5 hours ago
Calgary real estate market heats up after best February in years: CREB
Real eState23 hours ago
Women and commercial real estate – The Globe and Mail
Health21 hours ago
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 2 – CBC.ca
Sports16 hours ago
Oilers Alex Chiasson to have hearing over cross check on Maple Leafs Jimmy Vesey – Pension Plan Puppets
Economy4 hours ago
Canada economic activity heats up, raises focus on BoC easing bond purchases