Revealed: how Italy's populists used Facebook to win power

December 19, 2018

 

 

The domination of Facebook by Italy’s two populist political leaders, Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, is revealed in previously unseen data that shows how they exploited video and live broadcasts to bypass the mainstream media and foment discord during the country’s general election.

 

The data, reviewed by the Guardian, reveals how the leaders massively expanded their reach with inflammatory and visually arresting posts earlier this year, eclipsing their main rival, the centre-left former prime ministerMatteo Renzi, on Facebook.

 

The Facebook data, which captured the engagement metrics on thousands of posts by the six major party leaders in the two months leading up to the election, was collected by academics at the University of Pisa’s MediaLab.

 

It reveals all of the 25 most shared Facebook posts in the two months leading up to the election were videos, live broadcasts or photos from either Salvini, who runs the far-right League, or Di Maio, the leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).

 

Read the feature in the Guardian.

 

[This piece was published on 17/12/18]

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