Show an ad over header. AMP

The liberal election is happening on Instagram

While Facebook continues to take heat over being a tinderbox for conservative media, data shows that liberal, civically engaged voices are winning out on Instagram — and the engagement is even higher there than on Facebook.

Why it matters: The politics playing out on Instagram reflect a younger, more progressive generation. Many have left Facebook behind to their parents.

What's going on: A range of data from the Facebook-owned social media metrics platform CrowdTangle shows that liberal-leaning messaging flourishes on Instagram, and that the top accounts generate even more engagement than on Facebook.

  • There was 36% more engagement on the top 50 accounts posting about "Black Lives Matter" on Instagram versus Facebook in the past 30 days, and nearly 3x as much about "climate change".
  • By contrast,interactions on the top accounts that used "Make America Great Again" were more than twice as high on Facebook compared to Instagram during the same period.
  • There is also more civic engagement on Instagram: top posts for "register to vote" generated 14x more interactions on Instagram than Facebook during this time.
Data: CrowdTangle; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Be smart: Facebook has taken heat over the fact that many of its most-engaged accounts belong to right-wing voices. Four of the five Facebook accounts with the most engagement over the past month belong to President Trump, Fox News, Breitbart and Ben Shapiro, per CrowdTangle data.

  • Instagram, which was invented 10 years ago specifically with a focus on culture and creators, has a list of top accounts that is dominated by sports, entertainment, meme and celebrity accounts — not politics. But a handful of top accounts have a strong liberal perspective despite not being explicitly political.
  • The Shade Room, which frequently pushes anti-Trump messages, generated 276 million interactions over the last month — more than 4x more than Fox News on Facebook.
  • The Instagram account Feminist has generated 46% more interactions than Fox News on Facebook.

Yes, but: It's worth noting that CrowdTangle doesn't measure engagement from personal pages — only interactions on posts from pages that belong to public figures, groups, publishers, companies, etc. Its data represents only part of what's actually shared and engaged with, but it helps to spotlight major trends across both platforms.

The big picture: The 50 biggest voices on Instagram generated 4x more engagement than the 50 biggest on Facebook over the last month. And these numbers don't even include the massive engagement that Instagram Stories generate.

There are major differences in how the two platforms are used, which contribute to the prevailing political attitudes.

  • On Facebook, link posts and hard news dominate, while on Instagram, hashtags get more traction. And political commentary on Instagram often happens through photoshops, edited videos and original graphics rather than reactions to headlines.
  • "Facebook leans more into hard news," Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said in an interview with Axios on Monday. Mosseri notes that Facebook includes the ability to post links to stories that take users offsite.
  • "Social movements definitely exist on Instagram," he said. "The platform lends itself more naturally to individual voices rather than news organizations."

Between the lines: A generational divide between the platforms helps to explain the political usage. While many younger voters maintain Facebook accounts, they spend more time and engage more deeply on Instagram.

Go deeper: Instagram morphs into an information powerhouse

Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela despite tight security

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.

Keep reading... Show less

Obama: The rest of us have to live with the consequences of what Trump's done

Campaigning for Joe Biden at a car rally in Miami on Saturday, Barack Obama railed against President Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying "the rest of us have to live with the consequences of what he's done."

Driving the news: With less than two weeks before the election, the Biden campaign is drawing on the former president's popularity with Democrats to drive turnout and motivate voters.

Keep reading... Show less

Murkowski says she'll vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Saturday that she'll vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, despite her opposition to the process that's recently transpired.

The big picture: Murkowski's decision leaves Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as the only Republican expected to vote against Barrett.

Keep reading... Show less

Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.

Keep reading... Show less

The murder hornets are here

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden is highest-spending political candidate on TV ads

After spending an additional $45.2 million on political ads this week, former Vice President Joe Biden has become the highest-spending political candidate on TV ads ever, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

By the numbers: In total, the Biden campaign has spent $582.7 million on TV ads between 2019 and 2020, officially surpassing Michael Bloomberg's record spend of roughly $582 million. Biden's spend includes his primary and general election advertising.

Keep reading... Show less

SurveyMonkey poll: Trump improves, but not enough

President Trump's final debate performance exceeded Americans' expectations, but it wasn't enough to shift the dynamics that left him trailing Joe Biden across most measures, according to a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

What they're saying: "Liar" was the word used most by debate watchers to describe Trump's performance, followed by "lies," "strong," "presidential" and "childish." "Presidential" was the word used most to describe Biden's performance, followed by "liar," "weak," "expected" and "honest."

Keep reading... Show less

Hunter Biden saga dominates online debate

Data: NewsWhip; Table: Axios Visuals

The mainstream media turned away. But online, President Trump's charges about Hunter Biden were by far the dominant storyline about the final presidential debate, according to exclusive NewsWhip data provided to Axios.

  • Coverage of business dealings by Joe Biden's son — and pre-debate allegations by one of his former business associates, Tony Bobulinski — garnered more than twice as much online activity (likes, comments, shares) as the runner-up.
Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories