I love Thanksgiving. Growing up we always would go to my grandparents’ house in Merrill, Wisconsin. The men and I would go deer hunting in the morning while Grandma cooked a full meal for upwards of twenty people in her small kitchen with no dishwasher.
Now, I like to stay in DC and do Friendsgiving. This week in DC is blissful - quiet, crisp fall air and the calm before the end of the year storm. I’m getting so many things on my to-do list done.
Given that we should be focusing our attention on turkey, mouth-watering side dishes, and football I’m not going to ruin the vibe with a serious newsletter about political ads, how platforms provide support to political parties, or more analysis about why Virginia went Republican. All topics I considered for this week.
Instead, I’m going to give thanks … and maybe touch on a few of those topics.
First, thank you for reading this newsletter. I appreciate all the support I’ve been getting about my writing. When I left Facebook in March I felt like I was a horrible writer. It took me until September to muster up enough courage to get this going. Little did I know I was kicking it off during one of the biggest Facebook stories in years. You all opening this up every Wednesday, reading and providing feedback means the world to me. Keep it coming!
To my friends and family. Thanks for putting up with me all these years. When I was at Facebook I usually was fluttering from one crisis to the other, rarely available to hang out, and very high strung. Thanks for being there to help me jump off the cliff to do my own thing and to still want to hang out with me.
My colleagues and friends at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Integrity Institute, Atlantic Council, National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, Carter Center, University of Wisconsin - Madison, and many other think tanks: thank you for embracing me into your community as part of my post-Facebook life. I’ve really enjoyed working with you all and am excited for what lays ahead.
I miss my Facebook family. I really do. Thank you for ten amazing years. I sincerely hope that folks understand why I am speaking publicly on these issues and that my goal is not to burn any bridges, but instead be honest about the choices that were made, where we maybe should have done something different and be a part of the solutions going forward. You continue to do a lot of amazing work and I want to help however I can from the outside.
Finally, a thank you to all the reporters that I’ve developed deeper relationships these last eight months. You do not have easy jobs and I’ve overall found that you are true in your goals of being fair in your reporting. It’s hard to talk about these complicated and nuanced issues in the length of a story, but you are trying.
I hope everyone has a restful Thanksgiving and I’ll see you next week where we’ll no doubt have all sorts of things to discuss.
What I’m Reading
Butterball has a hotline: It’s not Thanksgiving until you watch one of my all-time favorite clips from the West Wing. Update: Should you want to binge-watch various tv episodes about Thanksgiving Wikipedia has this handy list.
EU to announce political ad rules: For some reason, the EU feels like Thanksgiving is the day to announce their new rules around political ads. Mark Scott at Politico has been covering this extensively. Keep an eye on his Twitter account for what is announced tomorrow. I’ll break it all down in a future newsletter.
Impact of platforms’ on political parties: The team of Daniel Kreiss, Shannon McGregor, and Bridget Barrett at the University of North Carolina have been studying the role of technology and digital practitioners for as long as I can remember. They understand this world the best other than those of us who live in it. Bridget released a study this week looking at the impact of digital advertising firms - including platforms like Twitter and Facebook - in US elections from 2006-2016. This is a nuanced space and the researchers along with myself and Jenna Golden who worked on these teams at Twitter had a great back and forth on Twitter about this work. I encourage you to read it and this too I want to dig into more in a future newsletter.
Pew Internet: The Future of Digital Spaces and Their Role in Democracy
More analysis on why Virginia went red: This focus group research among suburban NOVA and Richmond Biden voters to understand why they swung to Youngkin or seriously considered doing so by ALG is making its way around Twitter. It certainly resonated with me and matches not only what I saw here in Virginia but what I see and hear when I go home to Wisconsin.
UW Board of Visitors speakers series: I’m doing another chat with my alma mater next week where my former Journalism professor Katy Culver will grill me on my favorite topics - technology and elections. Register here.