Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Rand Paul are the most talked about presidential candidates in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina – according to Facebook, at least.
The social network's policy team released data about "interactions" – that is, the 'likes,' posts, comments and shares, whether or positive or negative – for the one-month period beginning May 13 and ending June 13.
During that time, Jeb Bush formally declared his candidacy, but it's Clinton, her Democratic rival, and the anti-establishment GOP contender that seem to have people talking most.
In Iowa, Clinton received 289,000 interactions from 66,000 people. Sanders garnered 153,000 mentions from 30,000 people. Paul followed with 98,000 from 24,000 people. The candidates that the Hawkeye state mentioned least are Martin O'Malley and George Pataki, each with fewer than 5,000 people talking about them.
The data in New Hampshire and South Carolina is similar, except in the latter state, Ben Carson edges out Sanders by about 16,000 interactions.
So what does this mean, exactly, and does it matter?
If we're defining popular as “most talked about,” then the most popular people on my Facebook news feed in the last week have been a woman pretending to be a race other than her own and a white supremacist mass-murderer. Popular isn't always good, and often when a candidate is in the news, it's in a negative light.
So, while Clinton may technically be winning Facebook's popularity contest, that doesn't necessarily mean good news for her campaign. When you're as well-known as the former Secretary of State, whether or not people are talking about you doesn't matter so much as what they are saying.
For Sanders, however, second place might as well be first. Sanders' biggest obstacle as a Hillary challenger is his comparatively low name-ID. But in New Hampshire, for instance, Clinton is only beating Sanders in interactions by about 20,000.
Interestingly, the establishment GOP's likely pick for the nominee, Bush, who announced his candidacy during this time period, which usually gives politicians a social media mention boost, trails Paul in each of the three states – with the biggest gap being in South Carolina, where Paul was mentioned 52,000 more times.
Everybody is a loser when compared to Donald Trump, however.
According to Facebook data released after Trump's announcement, in the 24 hours from midnight June 16 and June 17, Trump was talked about 6.4 million times by 3.4 million people.