Methodology & Data

FWIW, here’s how we collect data for the newsletter each week. (Updated 4/11/2024)

Facebook & Instagram ad spending

Data is downloaded directly from the Meta Ad Library Report, which typically makes a Sunday to Saturday 7-day spreadsheet of spending data available every Monday or Tuesday. We then build an internal database of 7-day spending for longitudinal analysis.

We combine page spend by disclaimer. This is critical for accurate reporting of larger campaign spending. For example, if Biden for President (disclaimer & legal entity) spends via the “Kamala Harris” and “Joe Biden” Facebook page, each with the Biden for President disclaimer, we aggregate those totals to determine total Biden campaign spend.

For presidential campaigns, we combine all relevant legal disclaimers. For spend reporting purposes, “Biden Victory Fund” and “Biden for President” are combined. The same goes for “Trump Save America JFC” and “Donald J Trump for President Inc.”

Because Meta casts a wide net in determining political content, sometimes, we choose to exclude advertisers that we deem to be non-political (public health authorities, for-profit merchandise companies, government regulatory agencies).

Google & YouTube ad spending

Data is downloaded weekly from the Google Transparency Report and is tracked on a Sunday to Saturday 7-day cadence.

Snapchat ad spending

Snapchat updates an annual spreadsheet of political and issue advocacy spending almost daily. Each Tuesday, we download and total year-to-date data for U.S.-based advertisers only.

Sometimes, we exclude advertisers that we deem to be non-political (public health authorities, for-profit merchandise companies, government regulatory agencies).

X/Twitter ad spending

Twitter updates its political ads disclosure every two days. We download the company’s data each Tuesday and report on year-to-date totals for U.S.-based advertisers.

Organic Facebook & Instagram engagement and growth insights

We use CrowdTangle software to regularly analyze historic data on post engagement and page growth, for Facebook and Instagram. Meta has announced that CrowdTangle will cease to exist in August 2024.

Organic TikTok engagement and growth insights (NEW)

FWIW will provide recurring data and analysis on some of the app's top-performing posts mentioning Biden or Trump in a given week. In terms of methodology, we’re currently using the app’s general search feature to sort and rank top content mentioning “Trump,” “Donald Trump,” and #donaldtrump, and “Biden,” “Joe Biden,” and #joebiden based on the most “likes” received in a given week. We pull this data every Thursday evening. We’ll then manually analyze the posts and label them according to sentiment if they are positive, negative, or neutral to the candidate. 

While the app’s Search functionality is sometimes a little glitchy, we’re confident this can provide a credible weekly snapshot of trending conversations about the Presidential candidates.

TikTok views and engagement change very rapidly, as is the nature of the platform. The data we provide represents one snapshot in time, that may illustrate a different picture than a similar search hours or days later.

We’ve yet to find solid external software for digging into TikTok data, but if you have solid tools for reliable tracking of TikTok analytics by search term (not account or hashtag), please send me an email

For account growth and post views, we use

Citing the FWIW newsletter

If you’re a journalist interested in citing data or insights from this newsletter, you can use:

“According to FWIW, a newsletter that tracks digital politics…”

If you have more specific requests, email me at