Show an ad over header. AMP

After election, common ground online and on Facebook shrinks

Facebook and other social media platforms aim to serve users across the political spectrum, but as America's tribal partisan split deepens after a divisive election, more users may start choosing to stick with their own kind.

Why it matters: No competitor will be able to match Facebook's size any time soon, or maybe ever. But the nation's sharp schism is reducing the company's options for keeping users on both left and right engaged — and seeding the online landscape with potential alternatives.

Catch up quick: For years President Trump effectively used Twitter as his megaphone and Facebook as a source of fundraising. But now his supporters view both platforms' campaigns against election-related misinformation as censorship. Meanwhile, Democratic critics argue that the companies bend rules too far to placate the right.

What's next: Parler, a still-tiny Twitter-like social network that touts itself as "bias-free" and has become a haven for conservative platform immigrants, hit the top of the App Store charts in the days following Trump's election loss.

  • Parler is no threat to Facebook at the moment, and neither are its rival alternative social networks.
  • But one or another of them could easily pick up momentum, particularly if Trump smiles on it or moves to it.

Trump, already contemplating a 2024 run, could spend the next four years fighting battles on Twitter and Facebook. But he might also try to promote alternatives to them, perhaps as part of a long-rumored larger "Trump TV"-style media project, and particularly if he gets thrown off Twitter, which is more of a possibility once he leaves office.

Yes, but: One reason Parler and other conservative networks like Gab have yet to gain critical mass is that they don't offer key influencers a path to making lots of money (yet).

  • It's hard for a platform to help people with huge followings monetize their social media presences when they're surrounded by inflammatory content.

Between the lines: Tech platforms could be facing a transition like the one TV news went through over the last 25 years, as broadcast networks that catered to the American center lost ground to cable news channels that drummed up viewers by taking sides.

The big picture: Facebook has little interest in taking sides, and would prefer to continue providing a playing field on which both right and left vie for attention, buy its ads, and feed its profits.

  • But the creators of, and participants in, conservatives' alternate media reality look increasingly unwilling to keep playing that game.
  • The bitterer the post-election fight becomes, the more likely it is that Facebook will be forced to choose between becoming the Fox News of social networks — or watching as someone else builds it.

Our thought bubble: Facebook and social media have been criticized for allowing users to build their own echo chambers and filter bubbles where they only communicate with like-minded people.

  • But the dissatisfaction with these platforms right now comes from people who no longer want to share the same social space with their political opponents.
  • They're not looking to leave the echo chamber behind; their goal is to seal it more tightly.

The bottom line: Facebook remains ubiquitous because it helps people connect with friends and family — who share political news as one among many topics. For now, its would-be competitors don't offer any kind of connection beyond an all-politics-all-the-time feed, and that's likely to limit their appeal.

Trump applies extreme pressure on Bill Barr to release so-called Durham Report

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

Keep reading... Show less

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.

Keep reading... Show less

Obama: Broad slogans like "defund the police" lose people

Former President Barack Obama told Peter Hamby on the Snapchat original political show "Good Luck America" that "snappy" slogans such as "defund the police" can alienate people, making the statements less effective than intended.

What he's saying: "You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done," Obama told Hamby in an interview that will air Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. EST on Snapchat.

Keep reading... Show less

Nasdaq's ultimatum to America's most powerful corporations

New diversity and inclusion rules are on the table for some of America's most powerful corporations, courtesy of one of its most powerful stock exchanges.

What's new: Nasdaq is threatening to delist companies that won't move toward having at least one woman and at least one underrepresented minority of LGBTQ person on their corporate boards.

Keep reading... Show less

Latinos make up nearly 18% of the U.S. labor force but occupy just 4% of executive roles

Latino professionals have the widest gap between representation in the labor force and executive positions — bigger than that of any other minority group.

Why it matters: Latinos will make up a quarter of the U.S. population by 2050, and scores of U.S. firms profit off of Latino consumers, but this group is absent from the business world's highest and most impactful decision-making positions.

Keep reading... Show less

Salesforce will buy Slack for $28 billion

Salesforce on Tuesday afternoon said it will pay $27.7 billion in cash and stock to buy workplace collaboration platform Slack.

Why it matters: This is the largest software merger since IBM agreed to buy Red Hat in late 2018, and creates a cloud giant that can better compete with Microsoft.

Go deeper: Salesforce rolls the dice on Slack

McConnell circulates revised GOP coronavirus stimulus plan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell circulated a new framework for coronavirus stimulus legislation to Republican members on Tuesday that would establish a fresh round of funding for the small business Paycheck Protection Program and implement widespread liability protections, according to a copy of the plan obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The revised GOP relief draft comes after McConnell's meeting with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, during which they went over in detail what provisions would get backing from President Trump.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories