Donald Trump's Facebook Engagement Surges as He Spreads Election Misinformation

Donald Trump's Facebook posts have seen massive surges of engagement in the wake of his election defeat to president-elect Joe Biden.

As social media platforms continue to place misinformation labels on Trump's posts, his Facebook feed is thriving. One status update this week attracting more than a million interactions and others frequently topping lists of the most-popular posts on the site.

Despite Biden's victory, Trump has refused to concede. Instead, he directed his lawyers to file legal cases in an attempt to challenge the outcome of the vote and repeatedly asserted—without evidence—that the results were manipulated or fraudulent.

This week, Trump's Facebook and Twitter accounts remain littered with warning flags as the platforms attempt to warn other users that his claims are disputed or untruthful, but data from analytics company CrowdTangle suggests he is far from suppressed.

Vast engagement surges have been documented this month by Natalie Martinez, who is a disinformation researcher at the political advocacy organization MoveOn.

In a series of tweets published yesterday, Martinez detailed how Trump's Facebook post popularly skyrocketed between late October and earlier this month, peaking around the week of November 8-14 with an average of over 430,600 interactions per post.

That huge peak is the week of Nov 8-14, 2020, where Trump's page earned about 434,000 interactions per post. The second highest point is Nov 15-21, 2020, with Trump's page earning about 406,000 interactions per post.

— Natalie Martinez (@natijomartinez) November 23, 2020

The CrowdTangle data said that between November 15 and November 21 Trump's posts on the Mark Zuckerberg-led website gained an average of 403,200 interactions. Many of the posts now include fact-checking labels or links to legitimate information.

"The amount of Facebook engagement Trump is earning now on post-election misinfo compared to any other point in the past three years is absolutely ridiculous," Martinez tweeted, noting in 2017 the engagement was often under 100,000 per post.

Trump's most popular post

With some media attention now turning to the incoming administration, Trump has used his social media presence to spread false claims about the election. Simultaneously, he has said he won "by a lot" and suggested the voting process was rigged.

According to a Newsweek review of the CrowdTangle data, Trump's most engaged post in the week November 8-14 gained more than 1.5 million interactions from users.

"People are not going to stand for having this Election stolen from them by a privately owned Radical Left company, Dominion, and many other reasons!," Trump's post read, reiterating the baseless assertion that voting machines were manipulated.

On Trump's Facebook feed the following week (Nov 15-21), the most engaged post was an all-caps assertion that he had won the election, gaining over 1.3 million responses.

Martinez said on Twitter this week that three of the top five most popular page posts on the entirety of the Facebook platform last weekend had been from Trump's account, and were not initially flagged. "Two of those posts were about baseless voter allegations, neither were labeled as misinformation by Facebook," Martinez tweeted.

Looking at just US-based pages, all of the top 5 page posts were from Trump.

— Natalie Martinez (@natijomartinez) November 23, 2020

For now, Facebook appears to be taking a more blanket approach to moderating Trump, with clarifications being added to the bottom of several of his recent posts.

Under a post by Trump on Tuesday in which the president doubled down on his rejection of the election result, a Facebook label read: "Joe Biden is the projected winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election."

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump’s Facebook posts have seen massive surges of engagement in the wake of his election defeat to president-elect Joe Biden. Tasos Katopodis/Getty