Activities ask you to examine the political messaging of Political Action Committees (PACs and SuperPACs) and labor unions and how these organizations' use of the media influences voters and shapes democracy.
Special Interest Groups, Political Action Committees (PACs), and Labor Unions are constantly engaging in political advocacy through advertising. They devote enormous amounts of time and resources to persuading voters and citizens to support their positions on issues and candidates.
In the past, these organizations relied mainly on newspapers, direct mail, and television advertising to influence voters and citizens.
However, when running for President in 2008, Barack Obama's campaign changed the political advertising landscape by using social media posts and online ads to reach voters. Since then, the amount of money spent on online ads has gone from the millions to the billions and continues to grow with every election cycle on Facebook and Google and other online platforms. Many of these ads are carefully designed to microtarget specific groups with specific messages.
Paradoxically, as the American Bar Association has pointed out, “lying in political ads is also perfectly legal” because what is said is considered political speech and that is protected under the First Amendment (Political Advertising on Social Media, June 26, 2020). As a consequence, misinformation and disinformation keeps reappearing during and after elections, including in 2021 with the "Big Lie" that the 2020 Election was stolen from the former President.
Activity 1: Evaluate Political Action Committee (PAC) Advertisements
Curate a digital collection of political ads from PACs during the 2020 election. Here are some examples you might include:
Closely look at the information provided in the ads - Did you find any potential inaccuracies and misinformation in their appeals to voters? (see Super PAC ad attacks Comey before testimony). Were some PACs less truthful than others? Why do you think that might be?
Based on your analysis, create a social media campaign to bring awareness about how PACs seek to influence voters and shape democracy through ads.
The social media campaign should include at least 2 videos (e.g., YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok), 5 example posts, and 3 images (e.g., memes, graphics, infographics) designed by you.
Examine the influence of public and private interest groups in a democracy, including policy organizations in shaping debate about public policy. (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T4.13]