Facebook said on Wednesday that it will begin deleting its recommendations to users around the world on political and social issues Facebook groups, a move that is believed to reduce tension on the site.

The company also announced some changes in a blog post aimed at reducing the scope of access for groups that violate site rules, including showing them lower algorithm recommendations and reminding people when they join groups that previously violated policies.

Researchers and civil rights organizations have long warned that Facebook groups are the company’s vigorously promoted products, designed to provide venues for people with common interests such as sports or music, and have also been used to spread misinformation and organize extremist activities.

Facebook’s vice president of engineering, Tom Alison, said in an interview on Tuesday that Facebook is actively investing in groups.

He said that the proposed changes to political and civic groups announced by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the January earnings call were caused by users’ desire to reduce political content.

“They want us to lower the temperature a little bit,” Alison said.

He said that a newly formed group on any topic needs to wait 21 days to qualify for recommendation, so that Facebook has time to understand how the group works.

Since 2017, Facebook has been focusing on groups as a strategic focus, and Zuckerberg sees this feature as a way to promote “meaningful connections.” Last year, it strengthened the promotion of news feeds and groups in search engine results.

But during the coronavirus pandemic, Facebook stopped recommending health groups to users, saying they needed authoritative sources of information. In recent months, it has also suppressed certain groups due to policy changes to curb “military movements.”

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In the months leading up to the U.S. election and the Capitol attack on January 6, Facebook groups were flooded with false information and violent statements. Despite the suspension of recommendations, the “Stop The Steal” team swelled rapidly.

Facebook said on Wednesday that it will ask group moderators to temporarily approve posts from groups that have a “large” number of members who violate the rules or other group members who have been removed because of the rules.

It also stated that it will display the content of groups that violate the rules in members’ news feeds, and temporarily prevent recurring members who violate the rules from posting or creating new groups.

Facebook’s Alison declined to say what criteria will determine when organizations or their members that violate the rules will be removed from the platform.

Thomson Reuters 2021 ©

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