The Trump campaign’s use of Facebook to connect with right-wing supporters has been widely credited with helping them win the 2016 election (along with the activities of some Russian trolls) and now another conservative politician is thanking social media for his victory. Italy’s new political star, Matteo Salvini of the far-right Lega party, gave credit to Facebook in some comments he made on March 5 celebrating his party’s success:
Local journalists said Salvini — a member of the European Parliament and leader of the far-right Lega party, which now stands to act as a kingmaker in the coming coalition negotiations — had shaken up the election with the now notorious populist strategy of attacking the traditional media and adopting a hyper-personal and hyper-partisan Facebook strategy. “Facebook was a huge part of his surge in the polls,” Il Post’s Davide Maria De Luca told BuzzFeed News.”
What social media allowed Salvini to do is exactly what it allowed Trump to do—namely, to do an end-run around the traditional media and appeal directly to the core of his supporters (who also happened to be primarily anti-immigration, as Trump’s were), without having to filter his message for a mainstream audience. It’s become an increasingly popular strategy in an age where the traditional gatekeepers like the press no longer have as much control as they used to.