Good News, Bad News: A Sentiment Analysis of the 2016 Election Russian Facebook Ads

German Alvarez, Jaewon Choi, Sharon Strover


In the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the notion of “fake news” and Russian election interference became somewhat interchangeable. We argue that “fake news” insufficiently describes the Russian disinformation campaign. Our analysis of Facebook ad texts shows that they incorporate emotional appeals differently at unique moments in the political campaign of 2016. We use sentiment analysis to demonstrate the use of positive and negative emotional messages. Sentiment ratings dipped to more negative scores before the November 2016 election and rose to new positive heights after the election. This provides some evidence that the varying uses of positive sentiment and negative sentiment may have been strategic.


Facebook, disinformation, Russian propaganda, emotional appeal

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