Facebook doubles down on promise to get out of politics

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One investigative source says the company’s performance has yet to match its promise

Facebook has pledged to depoliticize Facebook… again. 

In a quarterly earnings call, Facebook reaffirmed that it’s not going to talk politics anymore. Company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook is taking a hard look at how it can reduce the amount of political content that users see in their News Feed. 

“One of the top pieces of feedback that we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services,” Zuckerberg vowed, doubling down on the social media giant’s promise to ratchet down political content on the platform following the uprising at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. 

Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook is getting out of the civic and political group recommendation business altogether -- a move made permanent after the company temporarily paused recommending those groups to U.S. users in October as it got ready for the 2020 U.S. elections. 

True or false?

Zuckerberg has made similar promises before, but he couched the new line the company is taking as a “continuation of work we’ve been doing for a while to turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations.”

Contrary to Zuckerberg’s claims, nonprofit news site The Markup said it found that Facebook continued to recommend political groups to its users throughout December and on into the new year.

“We found 12 political groups among the top 100 groups recommended to the more than 1,900 Facebook users in our Citizen Browser project, which tracks links and group recommendations served to a nationwide panel of Facebook users,” found The Markup’s Leon Yin and Alfred Ng. “Our data shows Facebook also continued to recommend political groups throughout January, including after it renewed its promise not to on Jan. 11.”

Caught in the headlights, Facebook had no real answer other than saying it would look into the matter.

“We have a clear policy against recommending civic or political groups on our platforms and are investigating why these were recommended in the first place,” Facebook spokesperson Kevin McAlister wrote in response to The Markup’s findings.

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