New tracking firm NewsWhip recently posted a study of media activity in the fast food, pharmaceutical, technology and car industries. Among the points of the analysis is that Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) was among the “most engaged brands” on social media based on activity on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. The article that received the most references by far was one on the Police1 site about the Ford Foundation’s donations to defund the police while Ford sells police cars.
Ford, according to NewsWhip, had 4,433,157 “engagements” from June through August. That was even more than Tesla’s 4,315,833. Third place went to GM, which finished with 1,628,618. The article most frequently mentioned ahead of any other related to the entire auto industry was “from Law Enforcement Today, had more than 700,000 engagements. It pointed out that the Ford Foundation donated to Black Lives Matter while Ford still creates vehicles for police officers.” The actual total was 713,361. The list also included an article from Law Officer that essentially covered the same subject. The number of engagements for this article reached 104,742 over the same period.
The Ford Foundation was founded by members of the Ford family in 1936. Henry Ford II stepped off the board of trustees in 1976. The foundation is run by 16 trustees and has a $12 billion endowment. Only one Ford family member sits on the board, Henry Ford III, who has a relatively low-level job at Ford.
The Ford Foundation does provide money to further social justice. The Ford company does make police vehicles. The notion that the two have some connection is false. Social media engagement has somehow made the connection “true.”
Social media is often criticized as a means by which news is distorted and widely held opinions are muddled. In the case of the two Fords, it is easy to support those negative conclusions.