FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Facebook logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken January 21, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
January 28, 2021
By Elizabeth Culliford
(Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday the company would no longer recommend civic and political groups to users of the platform.
The social media company said in October that it was temporarily halting recommendations of political groups for U.S. users in the run-up to the presidential election. On Wednesday Facebook said it would be making this permanent and would expand the policy globally.
On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Ed Markey wrote to Zuckerberg asking for an explanation of reports, including by news site The Markup, that Facebook had failed to stop recommending political groups on its platform after this move.
He called Facebook’s groups “breeding groups for hate” and noted they had been venues of planning for the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Speaking on a conference call with analysts about Facebook’s earnings, Zuckerberg said on Wednesday that the company was “continuing to fine-tune how this works.”
Facebook groups are communities that form around shared interests. Public groups can be seen, searched and joined by anyone on Facebook.
Several watchdog and advocacy groups have pushed for Facebook to limit algorithmic group recommendations. They have argued that some Facebook Groups have been used as spaces to spread misinformation and organize extremist activity.
Zuckerberg also said that Facebook was considering steps to reduce the amount of political content in users’ news feeds.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)