(In)visibility on social media in the 2020 election, part 1: Kamala Harris and Higher Heights

Jon Pincus
Nov 10 · 2 min read
Politics: Harris picks up endorsement from black women's organization, with a picture of Senator Kamala Harris
Politics: Harris picks up endorsement from black women's organization, with a picture of Senator Kamala Harris

Higher Heights is the largest online political organization dedicated to harnessing, organizing and mobilizing Black women’s political power, with over 90,000 members. They’ve been building out the #BlackWomenVote campaign for over a year — and, most political analysts would agree, Black women are a major force in the Democratic Party.

So even though Higher Heights endorsement of Sen. Kamala Harris wasn’t the only significant endorsement that was announced last week, it’s a pretty big deal.

Here’s what I got when I searched Google news for “Kamala Harris endorsements”:

A Google search for "Kamala Harris endorsements". The results are all about Tom Steyer, with pictures - so all the pictures on the pager are of white guys
A Google search for "Kamala Harris endorsements". The results are all about Tom Steyer, with pictures - so all the pictures on the pager are of white guys

And here’s what I get from doing the same search on reddit:

kamala harris endorsement Search results in r/politics, for the last week: A picture of Tom Steyer. To the right is a headline: Tom Steyer's aides got caught stealing Kamala Harris' campaign data and trying to buy political endorsements
kamala harris endorsement Search results in r/politics, for the last week: A picture of Tom Steyer. To the right is a headline: Tom Steyer's aides got caught stealing Kamala Harris' campaign data and trying to buy political endorsements

Hey wait a second, I’m noticing a pattern here.

It’s a great example of a dynamic Courtney Swanson highlighted in White Out: The Unrelenting Quest to Erase Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris is empirically mentioned less often than other candidates, even when there is every reason to center her in a news story.

Yeah really. And of course it’s not just Harris; Higher Heights is also getting erased here.

Update, November 18: Meg Kinnard has an AP story about Higher Heights teaming up with Harris to hold a “woman to woman” phone bank this weekend in South Carolina. I wonder if it’ll be on Google News or reddit? In any case, it’s a good illustration of why this is in fact a pretty big deal. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Harris winds up doing substantially better in the South Carolina primary better than most people expect.

In my next post, I’ll look at another significant endorsement from last week. First, though, here’s Kamala Harris talking with Zerlina Maxwell and Jess McIntosh on Signal Boost on SiriusXM Progress. The tweet has a short video, and a link of to SiriusXM for the full discussion.


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Jon Pincus

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A Change Is Coming

Software, culture, social computing, diversity, and more

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