Internet swallowed #pencefly but Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s reactions were most telling

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Fred Dimbleby analyze the American election 2020 digital campaigns for our US election podcast Will Trump Win?

Here he explains why the viral moment of the battle between Donald Trump and Joe BidenCompanions should not be viewed as a flyover incident.When a fly provides the most viral moment of a debate between two candidates who are on the verge of becoming President of the United States, it’s never a good sign of internet interest levels.

But during the VP debate, like a fly has landed and positioned itself on the head of Vice President Mike Pence and sat there for a full two minutes, a moment of history was created and #pencefly was born.


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The topic has received hundreds of thousands of tweets and, possibly the fastest overblown joke in the history of American debate, already boasts over 150 parody accounts.

But the fly episode actually provides insight into the different strategies of digital campaigns in the United States.The Biden team addresses the viral momentJoe Biden’s social media team was quick to seize the moment and posted this photo of their presidential candidate with a fly swatter – an image you hope was taken that night and not of their stock portfolio.

The tweet immediately grabbed the internet and claimed the story.

Biden’s campaign has (of course!) Already started advertising a Pence-themed flyswatter following their “will you shut up man” t-shirt in the first presidential debate.

Biden Harris Instantly Promoted ‘Truth About Flies’ After Viral Moment of the Night Credit: Biden Harris

However, Donald Trump’s social media accounts and Mike Pence barely mentioned the incident.

In fact, despite over nine million subscribers, the Vice President’s team did not tweet once during the debate.

In comparison, Kamala Harrisaccount published about 20 times.

He points out that Biden’s social team has been faster, more confident and more creative with their online presence in the major moments of this campaign.

In the run-up to this debate, they were even streaming an artist painting Kamala Harris live to their followers on Twitch.

But flygate also highlights the disparity in the campaign’s reach across different social media platforms.Trump flies over Biden’s Facebook attacks

Joe Biden’s tweet about fly, fag and all has been retweeted over 200,000 times and has more than double that number of likes.

It became one of the most interacted posts with a political debrief of the night.

Yet on Facebook the fly has had a lot less impact online and it shows that there really are two digital campaigns in this election.

Donald Trump has dominated on Facebook, posting the second, third, and fifth most-interacted posts in the United States in the past 24 hours.

Joe Biden’s fly gag came in ninth in the United States in terms of interactions.

And the Biden campaign seems to be aware of this difference in scope.

Biden posted almost continuously throughout the debate on Twitter, but on Facebook, the aforementioned flyswatter post was one of seven posts specifically dedicated to the debate.

And now?While Biden has captured the moments on some platforms, on Facebook, Trump is still king.

The question is: which platform are voters most engaged and willing to participate in this most extraordinary election?


More analysis of the US elections from Fred Dimbleby:



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