According to the New York Times, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement may be the largest movement in U.S. history. With fifteen to twenty-six million people protesting across the country after the murder of George Floyd, the quantity of people and their geographic spread has made it clear that racial justice is a very present issue for many Americans.
Protests and demonstrations are an essential part of the democratic process and can have a great impact on candidates’ platforms. Additionally, the ways that candidates frame the movement, either positively or negatively, can shape its future. Due to the prevalence of the movement, we were interested in researching how the movement has influenced presidential and senatorial campaigns. Conversely, we are also interested in how candidates talk about BLM, as they may provide some clues about the future of the movement. According to the Wesleyan Media Project, over $60 million has been spent on pro-Biden or pro-Trump Facebook ads alone between April 9th to August 8th. How prominent is the Black Lives Matter movement in these ads? How big of an influence has the movement had on these campaigns?
To evaluate this, we analyzed the frequency, content and spend percentages of the ads related to Black Lives Matter. Data used in this analysis came directly from the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks advertising through Facebook’s Ad Library API tool.