Figures from Facebook have revealed that “conservative” commentator Ben Shapiro has paid the Big Tech company over $3 million in advertising money since 2018.
The figures, available in the advertising transparency section for Facebook pages, show that the official Ben Shapiro page spent $2,923,526 dollars on adverts “related to social issues, elections or politics” from the 7th May 2018 until 25th June 2021, the most recent reporting date. In the last week reported, the page spent $5,746 in total.
The amount spent by Shapiro was highlighted in a post by Andrew Torba, the CEO of Gab, the free speech social network, which has pitched itself as an alternative to many of the Big Tech platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Many of the comments under Torba’s post on Gab pointed out the hypocrisy from Shapiro, in that he supposedly rails against Big Tech censorship, yet provides those same organizations millions of dollars in advertising funding.
National File reported in June that data tracked and collected by CrowdTangle and analyzed by the Twitter page “Facebook’s Top 10,” consistently show that link posts from the official Ben Shapiro page are in the 10 most engaged posts on the platform by pages from the United States. Not only are posts from Shapiro almost always in the top 10 posts on Facebook, but it is also not uncommon for his page to take multiple positions within the top 10, ranging up to even an overall majority of the top 10 spots.
In February, National File reported that Facebook gave Shapiro’s page a “shadow-boost,” with many of his posts being pushed into the feeds of users who had never interacted with his content. The report from Buzzfeed, which mostly erroneously focused on claims that Facebook is somehow a safe-haven for supporters of Alex Jones and Infowars, detailed changes made to a Facebook feature called In Feed Recommendations, which would insert posts into the Facebook feeds of people that they didn’t follow, but were similar to content they liked already.
Torba laid out many of these arguments and others in a video posted to Gab TV, arguing that with everything combined together, it was likely that Shapiro amounted to controlled opposition. “Why is it that [Ben Shapiro and others] are not experiencing censorship like the rest of us are, but also they’re being artificially inflated by Big Tech. So while Big Tech is silencing those of us who are actually speaking truth to power . . . [Big Tech is] artificially boosting the conservative fodder, as I like to call it, that are basically bread-and-circus for conservative Christians,” Torba said.