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Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

New data shows that since President Biden has taken office, topics such as “foreign policy," “climate” and “voting rights” have become a much bigger percentage of political and issue ad spending on Facebook, compared to the Trump era.

The big picture: Political ad spending can be a good proxy metric for the types of issues gaining traction amongst policymakers and interest groups.

  • Because Facebook's ad data is easy to track in real-time, it offers researchers a glimpse into trends impacting politics that was much harder to capture even just five years ago.

Details: Big Tech has become one of the biggest topics of discussion in recent weeks, accounting for 6-7% of all political and advocacy ads on Facebook. Ads from Facebook itself has driven some of that increase.

  • "Fake news" has virtually disappeared from Facebook ads compared to last year, when it was at one point ahead of the 2020 race the biggest topic of Trump campaign ad spending on Facebook.
  • "Antifa" and "far-left" have similarly retreated from the high levels of mentions they reached during last summer's Black Lives Matter protests.
  • Health care continues to be a major topic of discussion, but has become a smaller focus area as the pandemic has regressed.

Be smart: Mentions of Biden make up a meaningful share of ads this year, but just not to the extent former President Trump commanded for most of his presidency.

  • In some weeks, almost 40% of all Facebook political spending last year mentioned Trump, according to researchers from Bully Pulpit Interactive, a progressive advertising firm in Washington.

Go deeper

Dems defend Biden over Afghan withdrawal

A screengrab from a new ad by two pro-Biden entities, VoteVets and Unite the Country.

Deep-pocketed Democratic groups are defending President Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal with a nationwide six-figure ad campaign, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: While the president hasn't wavered from his decision to remove all U.S. troops, the new TV ads indicate even some of his allies see it as a potential vulnerability amid universal Republican criticism and heavy media scrutiny.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 14, 2021 - Technology

Facebook allows prominent users to break rules

Signage in front of the Facebook Inc. headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has long said that it applies the same rules to all posts, but internal documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal paint a picture of a company that allowed millions of politicians, celebrities and other high-profile users to break those rules without consequence.

Why it matters: It's hard to limit misinformation on a platform when you give a free pass to those with the most reach.

16 mins ago - World

Taliban: Executions and strict punishments will return

Taliban fighters in Kabul. Photo: Oliver Weiken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Strict punishments such as hand amputations and executions will return in Afghanistan, one of the Taliban's founders said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Why it matters: Despite attempting to project a new image, the Taliban remain committed to a hard-line, conservative ideology, including harsh ruling tactics.