In a previous study published in April, Media Matters compiled a list of 395 Facebook pages that pertained to news and media outlets, media figures, politicians, political parties, and issue-focused advocacy groups. Each page in this study: (1) had over 500,000 page likes; (2) regularly posted content related to U.S. political news; and (3) posted at least five times a week every week of our study. In the 20 weeks since our study was published, one of those 395 original pages has been removed from Facebook. An additional nine pages were excluded from this new study because they did not post at least five times a week every week of this new 20-week period. No new pages were added to this study. The resulting number of pages reviewed was 385: 127 were right-leaning pages, 169 were nonaligned pages, and 89 were left-leaning pages.
Pages were coded by two researchers and reconciled by a third researcher for two factors: (1) whether they posted content related to political news and (2) ideological alignment (left-leaning, right-leaning, nonaligned, or “other”). Each page was individually reviewed, and only pages that regularly focused on news about American politics were included in the study. The ideological alignment of a page was determined by a page’s name, information in the “About” section, and posts. Pages that expressed opposition to Trump or focused on issues primarily aimed at liberals (e.g., protecting abortion rights, calling for action against gun violence, etc.) were coded as left-leaning. Pages that expressed support for Trump or focused on issues primarily aimed at conservatives (e.g., restricting abortion rights, downplaying gun violence, etc.) were coded as right-leaning. All pages for right-wing and left-wing media outlets were automatically coded as right-leaning or left-leaning, respectively. Pages that did not have an ideological leaning in their content were coded as nonaligned. If there was doubt about whether to code a page as nonaligned or left-leaning, the page was coded as left-leaning. Pages were coded as “other” if they did not fit in any of the above categories or if they contained a mix of left-leaning and right-leaning content.
Media Matters obtained data on each page’s interactions, interaction rates, postings, and page growth in one-week intervals (Monday-Sunday) over a 20-week period, beginning the week of March 18, 2019, and ending the week of July 29, 2019.