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Facebook Halts Recommending Political Groups Before Election

Facebook Halts Recommending Political Groups Before Election
(Richard Drew/AP)

By    |   Friday, 30 October 2020 07:08 PM

Facebook has temporarily deactivated an algorithm that automatically recommends political or social issue discussion groups to its users as a precaution about misinformation ahead of the U.S. presidential election.

"This is a measure we put in place in the lead-up to Election Day. We will assess when to lift them afterwards, but they are temporary," Facebook spokeswoman Liz Bourgeois said in a statement to cnet.com.

More than 1.8 billion people engage in Facebook groups every month, according to the company.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the move Wednesday during a Senate hearing in response to a question by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who asked why Facebook was not eliminating pages by groups that were “breeding grounds for hate, echo chambers of misinformation.”

“We have taken the step of stopping recommendations in groups for all political content, or social issue groups, as a precaution for this," Zuckerberg said, according to the Washington Examiner.

"But just to clarify one thing, the vast, vast majority of groups and communities that people are a part of are not extremist organizations or even political ... I do think we need to make sure that our recommendation algorithm doesn't encourage people to join extremist groups."

The hearing was conducted to get testimony from social media companies regarding what is known as Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which was intended to keep pornography from reaching minors.

The law has been interpreted as a shield to tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from being sued for libel and slander since they are viewed as a bulletin board for user content, not as a publisher.

However, many have accused the platforms of selectively blocking or restricting content depending on political viewpoints, which they say makes them publishers and therefore should be subject to the same laws.

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Facebook has temporarily deactivated an algorithm that automatically recommends political or social issue discussion groups to its users as a precaution about misinformation ahead of the U.S. presidential election.
facebook, political, groups, recommend
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2020-08-30
Friday, 30 October 2020 07:08 PM
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