February 11, 2021 2:13:09 pm
The world’s biggest social media company, Facebook, will temporarily reduce political content for users in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia starting this week. The platform would take similar steps in the United States “in the coming weeks,” according to a blog post on Wednesday.
In January, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to “turn down the temperature” of political discourse on Facebook because “people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services.”
The social network, which has come in for criticism for not doing enough to remove hateful content, announced in January that it would stop recommending civic and political groups.
“One common piece of feedback we hear,” Wednesday’s blog post began, “is that people don’t want political content to take over their News Feed.”
“Over the next few months we’ll work to better understand peoples’ varied preferences for political content and test a number of approaches based on those insights,” the post continued. “As a first step, we’ll temporarily reduce the distribution of political content in News Feed for a small percentage of people in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia this week, and the US in the coming weeks.”
During these “initial tests,” Facebook will “explore a variety of ways to rank political content in people’s feeds.”
Big social media platforms under pressure
The World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “will be exempt from these tests” in order to maintain the flow of reliable information on COVID-19, according to the company.
Responding to public pressure, Facebook, Google, Twitter and other outlets have recently agreed to tweak their operations in order to reduce the spread of fake news via their platforms.
Facebook announced in October that it would ban groups that openly support QAnon, a popular conspiracy theory that has led to the spread of misinformation across the US and other countries.
In the past, the social network has resisted algorithm changes which would reduce misleading and divisive content, as such changes would reduce their platform’s overall use.
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