The Thin Ideology of Populist Advertising on Facebook during the 2019 EU Elections

by   Arthur Capozzi, et al.

Social media has been an important tool in the expansion of the populist message, and it is thought to have contributed to the electoral success of populist parties in the past decade. This study compares how populist parties advertised on Facebook during the 2019 European Parliamentary election. In particular, we examine commonalities and differences in which audiences they reach and on which issues they focus. By using data from Meta (previously Facebook) Ad Library, we analyze 45k ad campaigns by 39 parties, both populist and mainstream, in Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and Poland. While populist parties represent just over 20 ads, they account for 40 which from Eurosceptic and far-right partiesx2013thus hinting at a competitive advantage for populist parties on Facebook. We further find that ads posted by populist parties are more likely to reach male audiences, and sometimes much older ones. In terms of issues, populist politicians focus on monetary policy, state bureaucracy and reforms, and security, while the focus on EU and Brexit is on par with non-populist, mainstream parties. However, issue preferences are largely country-specific, thus supporting the view in political science that populism is a "thin ideology", that does not have a universal, coherent policy agenda. This study illustrates the usefulness of publicly available advertising data for monitoring the populist outreach to, and engagement with, millions of potential voters, while outlining the limitations of currently available data.


page 5

page 11


Facebook Ads: Politics of Migration in Italy

Targeted online advertising is on the forefront of political communicati...

Clandestino or Rifugiato? Anti-immigration Facebook Ad Targeting in Italy

Monitoring advertising around controversial issues is an important step ...

Facebook Political Ads And Accountability: Outside Groups Are Most Negative, Especially When Microtargeting Or Hiding Donors

The emergence of online political advertising has come with little regul...

Facebook's Advertising Platform: New Attack Vectors and the Need for Interventions

Ad targeting is getting more powerful with introduction of new tools, su...

How Do US Congress Members Advertise Climate Change: An Analysis Of Ads Run On Meta's Platforms

Ensuring transparency and integrity in political communication on climat...

The potential of Facebook advertising data for understanding flows of people from Ukraine to the European Union

This work contributes to the discussion on how innovative data can suppo...

Discovering Political Topics in Facebook Discussion threads with Spectral Contextualization

We propose a new technique, Spectral Contextualization, to study politic...

Please sign up or login with your details

Forgot password? Click here to reset