As Georgians head to the polls to vote on their two U.S. Senators — and effectively, partisan control of Congress — on Tuesday, voters face an online landscape far different from what they saw in the weeks surrounding November’s general election.
In the fall, Facebook — by far the most popular social network — clamped down on sponsored posts about politics in order to ensure that misinformation would not spread the way that it had during the 2016 presidential election. But a few weeks before the Georgia race, Facebook turned off this safeguard in Georgia. The Markup decided to take a look behind the curtain to see if we could determine the impact on Georgia voters’ news feeds. We recruited a panel of 58 Facebook users in the state and paid them to allow us to monitor their feeds, starting in late November, using custom software we built for our Citizen Browser project. The Citizen Browser project is a data-driven initiative to examine what content social media companies choose to amplify to their users.