Technology Firms Shape Political Communication: The Work of Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Google With Campaigns During the 2016 U.S. Presidential Cycle. Daniel Kreiss & SHANNON C. MCGREGOR. Journal of Political Communication. Pages 1-23 | Published online: 26 Oct 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2017.1364814.
“This article offers the first analysis of the role that technology companies, specifically Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google, play in shaping the political communication of electoral campaigns in the United States. We offer an empirical analysis of the work technology firms do around electoral politics through interviews with staffers at these firms and digital and social media directors of 2016 U.S. presidential primary and general election campaigns, in addition to field observations at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. We find that technology firms are motivated to work in the political space for marketing, advertising revenue, and relationship-building in the service of lobbying efforts. To facilitate this, these firms have developed organizational structures and staffing patterns that accord with the partisan nature of American politics. Furthermore, Facebook, Twitter, and Google go beyond promoting their services and facilitating digital advertising buys, actively shaping campaign communication through their close collaboration with political staffers. We show how representatives at these firms serve as quasi-digital consultants to campaigns, shaping digital strategy, content, and execution. Given this, we argue that political communication scholars need to consider social media firms as more active agents in political processes than previously appreciated in the literature.”