Facebook tests new way to reduce contentious political content

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Facebook has started a new test to deemphasize political posts and current events in its user feeds. In a move driven by user feedback, the social network will limit political content that people will see in their News Feeds.

facebook political content

“Moving forward, Facebook will expand some of its current News Feed tests that put less emphasis on certain engagement signals, like the probability that a user will share or comment on a post, in its ranking algorithm. Instead, it will begin placing a higher emphasis on other types of user feedback, like responses to surveys,” reports Axios.

The move builds up on the tests that Facebook started earlier this year. And it has decreased political content in user News Feeds.

The social network developed the test after concerns on the effect of disruptive political arguments on the platform. Facebook has been testing with selected users in the US since February 17 this year.

“We’ve seen positive results from our tests to address the feedback we’ve received from people about wanting to see less political content in their News Feed. As a result, we plan to expand these tests to Costa Rica, Sweden, Spain and Ireland,” says Facebook.

Facebook notes the test has revealed that some engagement signals can show what posts people find to be valuable.

Less emphasis

“Based on that feedback, we’re gradually expanding some tests to put less emphasis on signals such as how likely someone is to comment on or share political content. At the same time, we’re putting more emphasis on new signals such as how likely people are to provide us with negative feedback on posts about political topics and current events when we rank those types of posts in their News Feed,” adds Facebook.

This update may reduce the emphasis on your tendency to comment. And it factors in the ballooning direct feedback Facebook gets from its users on having less political content in their feeds.

“One of the top pieces of feedback 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. So one theme for this year is that we’re going to continue to focus on helping millions more people participate in healthy communities and we’re going to focus even more on being a force for bringing people closer together,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in February this year.

Facebook is seeing positive responses when it limited the political content in user feeds after the US election. The update reduced contentious debates and division across the board.

The social network says the changes will impact public affairs content. Publishers will expectedly see an effect on their traffic.

“Knowing this, we’re planning a gradual and methodical rollout for these tests, but remain encouraged, and expect to announce further expansions in the coming months,” says Facebook.

It seems like Facebook is pushing in the right direction. And it has responded to its users’ ongoing concerns in a calculated direction.


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Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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