“Online Political Information: Facebook Ad Saturation and Electoral Accountability in Mexico,” Horacio Larreguy, Harvard University

Event time: 
Friday, October 25, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm
Institution for Social and Policy Studies (PROS77 ), A002 See map
77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 


Abstract: While inexpensive digital technologies like Facebook can spread misinformation, they could also enhance electoral accountability. High saturation campaigns—which target large shares of an electorate–may induce or amplify voter responses to incumbent performance information. We experimentally evaluate a non-partisan NGO’s campaign, which varied whether Facebook ads that informed Mexican voters of irregularities in municipal expenditures targeted 0%, 20%, or 80% of voters in a municipality. Around 15% of targeted voters watched at least part of the video ad. We find that incumbent parties which engaged in negligible irregularities won around 5 percentage points more votes among directly targeted voters. This effect was twice as large under the 80% saturation condition as under the 20% saturation condition, and the high saturation condition also generated substantial spillovers to non-targeted voters. Social interactions between voters, and not responses by politicians or media outlets, drive these effects. High information saturation may thus help to explain the relatively high impact of mass media on voting behavior and electoral accountability.

Horacio Larreguy received his PhD in Economics from the MIT in 2013 and is an Associate Professor of Government at Harvard University. He works on clientelism and vote buying, the importance of information for political accountability, and where education fosters political participation. His work is mostly in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa and his methodological focus on causal identification using both observational and experimental data. He has conducted large-scale experiments in Liberia, Mexico, Senegal and Uganda. Horacio has published work in leading economics and political science journals and has served as a consultant for USAID.

This workshop series is sponsored by the ISPS Center for the Study of American Politics and The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale with support from the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Fund.

Open to the Yale community only.

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