As news started circulating on Monday that Twitter may accept billionaire Elon Musk's bid to buy the social media company, right-leaning Facebook pages praised the deal and Musk’s commitment to so-called “free speech,” earning nearly 11 million interactions while doing so. In a review of Facebook posts from news and politics pages, Media Matters found that right-leaning pages alone earned more interactions -- fifth-highest in 2022 so far -- on Monday than the combined total earned by left-leaning and nonaligned pages on the same day. In fact, 9 of the top 10 daily Facebook posts about U.S. news and politics were from right-leaning pages, which largely celebrated news of the deal while mocking “the libs” concerned about Musk's takeover.
On April 25, Twitter announced an agreement with Musk for him to buy out shareholders and wholly own the company “in a transaction valued at approximately $44 billion.” News of negotiations between Twitter and Musk was previously met with praise and encouragement from right-wing figures, who claimed that Musk would restore so-called “free speech” to the platform. Such praise became even more prominent after the announcement of a deal, especially on Facebook.
Right-wing media personalities and their Republican allies have spent years pushing false claims that they are being censored by social media platforms. Even though Media Matters and others have repeatedly debunked these claims, Musk seems to subscribe to this paranoia as well, declaring himself a “free speech absolutist.” A recent review of Musk’s Twitter account also found that it is full of right-leaning content — including COVID-19 misinformation and anti-trans rhetoric — and interactions with numerous right-wing outlets, figures, and conspiracy theorists.
In our latest study, Media Matters analyzed Facebook posts from select news and politics pages on April 25 — the day Musk’s Twitter deal was announced. We found that right-leaning pages got an outsized share of interactions on Facebook, even though they made fewer posts than other pages. In fact, this data further undermines the right’s false claims of censorship on social media.
On April 25, right-leaning pages earned nearly 11 million interactions on their roughly 5,800 posts
We compiled and analyzed a total of nearly 22,000 Facebook posts from 1,773 U.S. politics and news pages that were made between 8 a.m. EDT on April 25 and 8 a.m. EDT on April 26, which earned a total of 21.2 million interactions. Notably, we found that right-leaning pages made more than 5,800 posts and accounted for nearly 11 million interactions — or approximately 52% of all interactions earned on only roughly 26% of posts from politics and news pages.
Posts from left-leaning and ideologically nonaligned pages earned far less interactions during the same time frame, accounting for just over 21% and 27%, respectively. In fact, nonaligned pages earned roughly 5.7 million and left-leaning pages earned roughly 4.5 million interactions. Meanwhile, nonaligned pages made over 13,000 posts during the study period, or roughly 60% of all posts from news and politics pages.
Right-leaning pages’ nearly 11 million interactions earned on April 25 surpasses the interactions these pages have earned on Facebook nearly every other day this year. There have been only 4 days in 2022 when right-leaning pages earned more interactions.
On April 25, 9 of the top 10 Facebook posts were right-leaning pages praising the Twitter deal and Musk’s promise of “free speech”
Media Matters found that 9 of the top 10 posts (with the most interactions) were from right-leaning pages. These 9 posts earned over 1.1 million interactions — more than 10% of all interactions earned by right-leaning pages on April 25.
While 2 of these posts were from The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro and simply announced the deal had been made, the remaining 7 praised the deal, framed the news through Musk’s comments on “free speech,” or mocked “the libs” over negative reactions:
Using CrowdTangle, Media Matters compiled a list of 1,773 Facebook pages that frequently posted about U.S. politics from January 1 to August 25, 2020.
For an explanation of how we compiled pages and identified them as right-leaning, left-leaning, or ideologically nonaligned, see the methodology here.
The resulting list consisted of 771 right-leaning pages, 497 ideologically nonaligned pages, and 505 left-leaning pages.
Every day, Media Matters also uses Facebook's CrowdTangle tool and this methodology to identify and share the 10 posts with the most interactions from top political and news-related Facebook pages.
Using CrowdTangle, Media Matters compiled all posts for the pages on this list that were posted from 8 a.m. EDT April 25 through 8 a.m. EDT April 26, 2022. We reviewed data for these posts, including total interactions (reactions, comments, and shares).