Facebook to revamp News Feed again; Plans to dial down political content

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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The US-based social media giant Facebook has started introducing news feeds with less political subject matter as part of chief Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to reduce inflammatory content on the platform.

The popular social network stated it was beginning to test different ways to rank political content in people’s feeds to ensure posts about politics are not being shown to people who don’t want to see them.

As an initial step, Facebook would temporarily reduce the distribution of political content for a small percentage of people in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia this week, and the US in the coming weeks.

“During these initial tests we’ll explore a variety of ways to rank political content in people’s feeds using different signals, and then decide on the approaches we’ll use going forward,” product management director Aastha Gupta said in a blog post.

The company has assured that the changes won’t affect information about the COVID-19 from authoritative health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), as well as national and regional health agencies and services from affected countries.

“As Mark Zuckerberg mentioned on our recent earnings call, one common piece of feedback we hear is that people don’t want political content to take over their News Feed,” Ms.Gupta added.

Facebook has stated that in the coming few months, the company will work to get better knowledge about peoples’ varied preferences for political content and test different approaches based on those insights.

The current move comes following Facebook and other platforms being under scrutiny for spreading political misinformation and manipulation, especially during election periods.

Last month, Zuckerberg stated that Facebook is seeking to turn down the temperature on its platform by reducing the kind of divisive and provoking political talk it has long hosted.

Facebook will no longer recommend politics-themed groups to users and was working on ways to lower the amount of political content served up in users’ news feeds by its automated systems.

According to the company, political content makes up about 6 percent of what people see on Facebook, although each person’s feed is different and the percentage can vary widely.

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