Facebook has begun testing reducing the number of political posts in the users’ news feed. As reported by The Verge it comes on the back of users feedback indicating that they do not want the platform to be used for political means.
Facebook’s relationship with moderation and political posting is a storied one, to say the least. For a long while, Facebook rejected the notion of moderating posts, favouring the right to free speech.
However, since an advertiser walkout in the middle of 2020, the company has had to change tact. Mark Zuckerburg pledged then to depoliticize the platform.
Little actually after this pledge which prompted Zuckerburg to reiterated it at the start of this year. This move suggests that Facebook may actually look to take meaningful action going forwards.
The company has also had to step up its moderation policies and action due to the election and its aftermath. Following the violence at the Capitol, Facebook began removing any posts glorifying or praising the events form the platform.
From today Facebook has begun reducing the number of political posts on a small number of accounts. This will occur across Canada, Brazil, and Indonesia. Tests in the US will begin in a few weeks time.
Facebook tests reducing political posts on users News Feed
The tests plan to run for a few months to assess the impact on user experience and interaction. Aastha Gupta, product management director at Facebook, said the company took this action in response to user feedback.
Gupta said the company had aims of “finding a new balance of the content people want to see.” Only around 6% of content on the platform is made up of political posts. However, it appears that this small proportion has a disproportionate impact on user experience.
Facebook has also made its pledge permanent to stop recommending civic and political groups to users in the US. This began during the election as a temporary measure but will now continue forever.
Facebook has a tough balance to strike here. Zuckerburg has made it clear he wishes for political discussions to continue on the site. However, the aim is to stop them from overpowering the platform completely.
It seems that Facebook is going to run into problems whichever way it handles this issue. If it suppresses political content too much it will garner criticism from free speech activities. However, there is a clear push from its user base to depoliticize the platform to a degree at least.