While the Times mostly targets topical interests, of the top 20 interests targeted by The Daily Wire, only one (“American Football”) was not directly tied to conservative media or politics.
The Daily Wire also frequently made use of Facebook’s “lookalike audiences” feature to show content to new audiences of users who do not follow the page but share characteristics with those who do. In our dataset, 37.9 percent of Daily Wire posts used this type of targeting. The New York Times also used this targeting type, albeit rarely: Only 3.6 percent of its sponsored posts in our dataset targeted lookalike audiences.
“As you’re looking at this dataset, to me it shows that mainstream media outlets like The New York Times are still approaching the internet as a collective space in which you could potentially learn about anything, from ‘research’ or ‘science’ to ‘family and relationships,’ ” Francesca Tripodi, an assistant professor at UNC School of Information and Library Science at Chapel Hill, said. “But Daily Wire, if you’re saying, ‘We only want to target people who are interested in conservatism in America,’ that creates this bifurcated or dual internet, and that allows for information to circulate unchecked.”
Facebook advertising is designed to use personal data points about its users to guess what sorts of products they might like, she said, but there’s a fundamental difference between a food brand serving ads to people who like potato chips and a news brand serving information to people who like conservatism.
“[Daily Wire] is using the same tactics that these corporate entities are using but to create siloed interests around information,” Tripodi said.
Neither The Daily Wire nor Facebook responded to multiple requests for comment.
Beyond Facebook’s powerful data-gathering system, The Daily Wire amasses its own information on readers and potential readers.
The Markup also scanned Daily Wire ads in the Facebook ad library, which contains a broader range of ads than those seen by Citizen Browser panelists but does not disclose targeting information. Over a three-month period, from May through July, the ad library displayed 47 unique ads from The Daily Wire. Of these, 22 were survey-style ads prompting users to respond to emotive political questions.
Clicking the ad takes users away from Facebook and onto the dailywire.com domain, where they are asked to enter an email address in order to respond.
Over the same time period, no New York Times ads available in the ad library used this technique.