- Facebook will temporarily test the reduction of political posts on a “small percentage” of News Feeds.
- Some users in Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, and the US will be affected.
- Many Facebook users don’t want their feeds to be flooded with political content, according to CEO Zuckerberg.
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Facebook announced Wednesday that it will temporarily restrict political posts in a small number of News Feeds in four countries, including the US.
The social media platform has been”considering steps it could take to reduce the amount of political content in News Feeds,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, said during the company’s last earnings call. According to the company, about 6% of peoples’ feeds consists of politics.
Now, Facebook will actively test the reduction of political posts appearing in the News Feeds of a “small percentage” of users in Canada, Brazil, and Indonesia this week. The US will be tested in the “coming weeks.”
“During these initial tests, we’ll explore a variety of ways to rank political content in people’s feeds using different signals, and then decide on the approaches we’ll use going forward,” Aastha Gupta, Facebook’s product management director, wrote in the news release.
Users impacted by this will then be surveyed. Posts from government agencies and COVID-19 information from “authoritative” health agencies and services will not be limited in this trial phase.
“It’s important to note that we’re not removing political content from Facebook altogether,” Gupta wrote. “Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to find and interact with political content on Facebook, while respecting each person’s appetite for it at the top of their News Feed.”
Facebook has had a tumultuous few months due to its handling of political content, specifically with Facebook groups.
The social media platform previously said it would stop recommending political groups in the “long term.” Many of its users have reported not wanting “politics and fighting to take over their experience,” Zuckerberg said during Facebook’s last earnings call.
“We plan to keep civic and political groups out of recommendations for the long term, and we plan to expand that policy globally,” Zuckerberg said. “To be clear, this is a continuation of work we’ve been doing for a while to turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations and communities.”
Facebook’s algorithms have often been blamed as the driving force behind the push of divisive, extremist, and violent Facebook groups. There have been also been reports of top Facebook executives ignoring these issues, although the social media company has refuted these claims.
As a result, Facebook has come under fire from politicians like Sen. Ed Markey for its promotion of political groups. Some of these groups also include ones that became “breeding grounds for hate, echo-chambers of misinformation, and venues for coordination of violence, including explicit planning for the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021,” Markey wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg.
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