How Donald Trump’s campaign is using Facebook ‘dark posts’ to target black voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to speak to a campaign rally, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, in Sanford, Fla. AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, according to a new report,  is using targeted Facebook posts called “dark posts” to spread a video highlighting Hillary Clinton‘s “Super Predator” speech in an effort to stop African Americans from voting for Clinton.

In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg, Trump’s social media guru revealed the Republican campaign has three major “voter suppression operations” underway to rally support in the last few days before the election.

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At least one of these operations aims to target African American voters with negative ads focused on comments Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton made about black criminals in 1996.

The quote in question stems from a speech Clinton made while her husband’s administration tried to appear tough on crime.

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“They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators,’” Clinton said at the time. “No conscience, no empathy, we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”

Clinton said she regretted the statement earlier this year, after activists confronted her at a fundraising campaign.

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But now that quote is reportedly being used by Trump’s camp as a tactic to win black votes.

“In San Antonio, a young staffer showed off a South Park-style animation he’d created of Clinton delivering the ‘super predator’ line (using audio from her original 1996 sound bite), as cartoon text popped up around her: ‘Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators,’” reads the article.

Brad Parscale, digital director for the Trump campaign, explained to Bloomberg that the animation would be delivered to African American voters through a Facebook “dark post’ – a non-public post that is targeted towards a specific demographic.

Or, as Parscale said, “only the people we want to see it see it.”

What is a Facebook “dark post”?

A so-called dark post is a Facebook post that allows organizations to post an ad or targeted post visible only to a certain audience.

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“Instead of creating a regular post that will be seen by everyone who likes your Page, you can create an unpublished Page post ad and take advantage of all of Facebook’s targeting options,” according to Facebook’s business page.

“This enables you to tailor different messages to different audiences, and test what results in better performance and engagement.”

Any Facebook advertiser who has a business page on the platform can create one of these posts – but they have to pay for them.

It’s essentially the same idea behind Facebook’s targeted ads, which analyze your online history to show you ads the platform thinks you might like.

According to Bloomberg, Trump’s campaign is spending US$70 million on social media efforts and much of it on Facebook.

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“Our tools allow advertisers to reach the audiences they want. Groups using Facebook advertising to encourage people to support or oppose a particular candidate or initiative is not unique to our platform, this campaign, or this election,” a Facebook spokesperson told Global News when asked about Trump’s campaign.

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