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This piece was originally published in the April 14, 2021 edition of CAP Action’s weekly newsletter, What’s Trending? Subscribe to What’s Trending? here.

Hey, y’all.

It’s been a minute, but I promise it’s for good reason: Last week I got my Covid-19 vaccine! I took a day to sleep off the side effects, but now I’m back and ready to dive into what Facebook holds in store.

Getting my vaccine!
A year ago, I couldn’t imagine this moment. Grateful doesn’t begin to cut it.

Turns out, conservatives have turned up the rhetoric even further on anti-gun violence prevention content, using it to distract from the once-in-a-generation policies being proposed by President Biden. But progressives are hanging tough and matching them post for post. We’ll take a look below.

I also want to acknowledge that the timeline for this newsletter means the data we examined this week did not fully encompass the Facebook reaction to the horrific killing of Daunte Wright by Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police on Sunday. Please consider making a donation to help support his family.

WHAT’S TRENDING THIS WEEK

  • Preventing gun violence: On Thursday, President Biden announced six executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence. They include stopping the proliferation of “ghost guns,” limiting devices that make guns more deadly, and investing in community violence prevention programs.
  • Vaccines: Last week, President Biden announced that all American adults would be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccines by April 19. By the end of this week, 50% of US adults will have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 30% of adults in the US will be fully vaccinated. The Biden-Harris administration remains on track to administer 200 million doses in their first 100 days in office.

WHAT WE’RE HEARING ON SOCIAL

All over the place: Top posts from both progressives and conservatives last week were evergreen and covered everything from praise for Vice President Harris to a giant lizard climbing the shelves of a bodega. Other subjects included anti-immigrant rhetoric, gun violence and gun violence prevention, and memorializing Prince Philip.

Top 20 best-performing political Facebook posts by interactions according to data from NewsWhip.

As you can see, progressives and conservatives both earned five of the top 10 posts by interactions.

Top 10 best-performing political Facebook posts on the left and right for the weeks of March 31 and April 7 by interactions according to data from NewsWhip.
Top ten Facebook posts from progressive pages over the last week, according to data from NewsWhip.
Top ten Facebook posts from conservative pages over the last week, according to data from NewsWhip.

Last week, President Biden announced actions his administration would take to address the gun violence epidemic in our country, including the recent mass shootings in Boulder and Atlanta. This moment illustrated the power of the bully pulpit. The below graph shows the volume of conversation around guns in the five days leading up to a speech by the president on April 8 and the days immediately following.

Total interactions on gun-related Facebook posts over time according to data from NewsWhip.

And when it comes how those posts are performing, a comparison of the top 10 from both conservatives and progressives shows that, on the whole, both are performing well among their audiences:

Total interactions on top 10 gun-related Facebook posts from both conservatives and progressives according to data from NewsWhip.

But how does the administration’s Build Back Better agenda fit into this conversation? Let’s take a look at how infrastructure-related issues are performing compared to the pro-gun content conservatives are pushing:

Best-performing political Facebook posts from progressives about infrastructure and from conservatives about guns by interactions according to data from NewsWhip.

It can be tough to drive engagement on organic social media when a topic is not front and center in the press, as evidenced by the above. Despite overwhelming popularity and a flood of posts, many from some of the most powerful Facebook pages on the left, infrastructure struggled to break through in an environment primed for another (very important) topic. That’s why it’s so important that social media, press, and paid media teams work together to construct comprehensive media strategies.

ON MY RADAR

  • This week, April 11–17, is Black Maternal Health Week. Join the Black Mamas Matter Alliance (@BlkMamasMatter) to amplify effective maternal health policies and solutions for Black mamas with #BMHW21 or find a local event near you.

Thanks for reading,

Alex

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.

Authors

Alex Witt

Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships

Explore The Series

Welcome to “What's Trending?”, a weekly newsletter to help progressives answer the age-old questions: What works, and what doesn't? “What's Trending?” cuts through the noise to bring you the best (and worst) of what's happening on social media in the policy space, and explains why it's important.

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