Trump used a cutting-edge digital ad tool to win -- but it is coming back to haunt him in 2020: report
President Donald J. Trump listens to Vice President Mike Pence addresses his remarks Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

A group of former Facebook employees and data scientists, some of whom worked in the Trump campaign, "has co-opted the political ad function on Facebook to perform real-time persuasion message testing, to get a sense of how voters are reacting to ads as they see them," reports Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times.


The coronavirus outbreak has forced 2020 campaigns to go completely digital, and the progressive non-profit group Acronym is one of them. Former Facebook employee and Acronym member James Barnes says the one thing Facebook does really well is "how to measure things."

“As I considered what I wanted to do after Facebook as I went through sort of this political transformation, I wanted to know: What is the best way that I could contribute to help defeat Trump in 2020?" he said.

For the 2016 Trump campaign, Barnes used a Facebook tool known as “brand lift” to get insight into how some of their online ads were influencing people.

"That tool has since been taken away from political campaigns by Facebook, part of its broad restructuring of how campaigns are allowed to operate on the platform following widespread backlash after the 2016 election," Corasaniti reports. "Through his small team of engineers and data scientists, as well as ample cash from Acronym, which does not disclose its donors, Mr. Barnes has been able to recreate, to an extent, a similar tool."

Read the full report over at The New York Times.