Facebook: Trump campaign paid more for ads than Clinton campaign

The executive who used to run the company's ads department releases information on how much each campaign spent during the 2016 US presidential election.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
2 min read
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump spent more on political ads than Hillary Clinton did, a Facebook executive said.

Mark Ralston/Getty Images

Facebook is on the defensive about ad spending by political campaigns. 

Andrew Bosworth, the social network's current vice president of augmented and virtual reality, and former VP of advertising, took to Twitter on Tuesday to share how much the Trump and Clinton campaigns spent on political ads during the 2016 presidential election. 

Bosworth tweeted out an ad-sales chart dated from June 21, 2016, the day then-candidate Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, to Nov. 8, 2016, Election Day. The chart shows that Trump's campaign consistently paid more for ads on Facebook than Hillary Clinton's campaign did. 

"Prices depend on factors like size of audience and campaign objective," Bosworth said in a follow-up tweet. "These campaigns had different strategies." 

Facebook has been at the center of a backlash against tech titans, along with Google and Twitter. US officials have said Russian trolls tried to influence the 2016 presidential election and sow divisiveness in the states by buying ads on Facebook and pretending to be activist groups on both sides of the political spectrum. Facebook has promised to put a stop to propaganda posts and misinformation, but it fell victim to trolls as recently as last week, when its trending topics section featured videos that played up conspiracy theories regarding the Florida school shooting.  

Ad campaigns are also a sensitive issue for the social network, with Facebook promising, in October, greater transparency for political advertising

In another tweet, Bosworth went on to say that the social network wants to reveal more campaign data and is reaching out to the campaigns for permission to share that information. 

The tweets come in response to a Wired story published by former Facebook staffer Antonio Garcia Martinez. His article said Trump's campaign was able to spend less money on social media but get more attention by taking advantage of controversial content. 

"In essence, Clinton was paying Manhattan prices for the square footage on your smartphone's screen, while Trump was paying Detroit prices," Martinez wrote. Bosworth's tweet runs counter to that assertion. 

Brad Parscale, who led Trump's 2016 digital media campaign and was tapped on Tuesday to run Trump's re-election effort, seemed to corroborate Martinez's story on Saturday, saying the Trump campaign ran some ads that cost "pennies in some cases." 

On Monday night, Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to call out Facebook, warning that election trolling will continue unless the social network changes its ways.  

"We should all care about how social media platforms play a part in our democratic process," the former secretary of state said. "Because unless it's addressed it will happen again."

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