Facebook to stop recommending political groups to users

Facebook said it is asking its independent experts to rule on whether Mr Trump's suspension for "fomenting insurrection" should stand.
Facebook said it is asking its independent experts to rule on whether Mr Trump's suspension for "fomenting insurrection" should stand.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday (Jan 27) said the social network will no longer recommend politics-themed groups to users, a measure already taken in the United States due to election tensions.

The social media giant is aiming to shine up an image tarnished by the political controversy, including Mr Donald Trump's rise in the White House.

"We plan to keep civic and political groups out of recommendations for the long term and we plan to expand that policy globally," Mr Zuckerberg said in an earnings call.

He added that Facebook would also reduce political content in users' main news feeds as part of a push "to turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversation".

The move makes permanent steps taken by Facebook to guard against being a platform for violent or misleading messages during the US presidential election.

Facebook last week said it is asking its independent experts to rule on whether former president Trump's suspension for "fomenting insurrection" should stand.

Facebook and Instagram suspended Mr Trump after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on Jan 6, an attack on the seat of democracy that led to Mr Trump's unprecedented second impeachment.

The platform is referring the decision to its independent oversight board, which is tasked with making final decisions on appeals regarding what is removed or allowed to remain on the world's biggest social network.

"We believe our decision was necessary and right," Facebook vice-president of global affairs Nick Clegg said in a blog post at the time.

Members of the oversight board come from various countries and include jurists, human rights activists, journalists, a Nobel peace laureate and a former Danish prime minister.

Launch of the panel came late last year amid rising concerns about misinformation and manipulation around the US election.

Reaction to the Trump ban has ranged from criticism that Facebook should have booted him long ago to outrage over his online voice being muted.

Mr Zuckerberg said the decision to dial down politics related recommendations stemmed from user feedback, and will apply globally to the social network.

"We want these discussions to be able to keep happening," Mr Zuckerberg said.

"But 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."