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In a bid for unity on its platform, Facebook plans to stop recommending that users join political and civic groups over “the long-term.”
The company already stopped recommending the groups to users during the 2020 presidential race. But on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg indicated the change will become permanent. “Now we plan to keep civic and political groups out of recommendations for the long-term, and we plan to extend that policy globally,” he said in an earnings call.
In addition, the company plans on reducing “the amount of political content” that pops up on the Facebook News Feed. It’s a shift the social network has mentioned before in an attempt to prioritize content from “friends and family.” What will be different this time was left unsaid. But during the call, Zuckerberg said Facebook users are tired of today’s politics intruding on the experience.
“One of the top pieces of feedback that we are hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services,” he said. “So, one theme for this year is that we’re going to continue to focus on helping millions of more people participate in healthy communities.”
Zuckerberg didn’t acknowledge it, but his company has also faced harsh criticism for permitting controversial groups, such as the anti-vaccine movement and QAnon conspiracy theorists, to proliferate over the social network before trying to rein them in. Most recently, Facebook has been blamed for doing too little to stop pro-Trump supporters from calling for violence to overturn the 2020 election results.
In its defense, Facebook said the social network removed more than 1 million groups for breaking its rules. At the same time, Zuckerberg said his company is committed to preserving users’ free speech.
“We’ll have to balance this carefully because we have a deep commitment to free expression. So, I believe that if people want to be able to discuss the stuff or join groups there, they should certainly be able to do that. But, I just don’t think that it’s serving the community particularly well to be recommending that content right now,” he added.
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