Facebook, Twitter and Google played a far deeper role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign than has previously been disclosed, with company employees taking on the kind of political strategizing that campaigns typically entrust to their own staff or paid consultants, according to a new study released Thursday.
…While the companies call it standard practice to work hand-in-hand with high-spending advertisers like political campaigns, the new research details how the staffers assigned to the 2016 candidates frequently acted more like political operatives, doing things like suggesting methods to target difficult-to-reach voters online, helping to tee up responses to likely lines of attack during debates, and scanning candidate calendars to recommend ad pushes around upcoming speeches.
Such support was critical for the Trump campaign, which didn’t invest heavily in its own digital operations during the primary season and made extensive use of Facebook, Twitter and Google “embeds” for the general election.
…One constant in the dynamic: The companies break down their political outreach teams along party lines. Facebook’s point of contact to Clinton’s 2016 White House run, Crystal Patterson, was a veteran of Democratic politics, and Henke — Google’s liaison to the Trump operation and other 2016 Republican bids — was once the director of operations for the Western Republican Leadership Conference.