Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday the platform will stop recommending political and civic groups to its users, in an effort to “turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations.”
The social media company announced in October that it had taken “emergency measures” to stop recommending those groups to U.S. users in the run-up to the presidential election. According to an analysis by tech site The Markup, however, the platform continued to recommend political groups to its users throughout December, most often to Trump voters.
Zuckerberg said on Wednesday the policy will be made permanent and apply to the users in the rest of the world.
“We’re continuing to fine-tune how this works, but now we plan to keep civic and political groups out of recommendations for the long term, and we plan to expand that policy globally,” Zuckerberg said during a conference call.
“This is a continuation of work we’ve been doing for a while to turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations.”
The CEO also vowed to take steps to reduce the overall amount of political content that users see in their news feed.
Zuckerberg said although political posts only account for a “pretty small minority” of Facebook’s content, he felt “a lot of things” have become politicized and that politics has “had a way of creeping into everything.”
“One of the top pieces of feedback that 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,” he said.
Zuckerberg’s renewed promise comes after Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) condemned certain political groups on Facebook as “breeding grounds for hate” and “venues for coordination of violence.”
“Facebook must explain the apparent discrepancy between its promises to stop recommending political groups and what it has delivered,” Markey wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg, citing The Markup’s report that found 12 of the top 100 groups pushed by Facebook were political.
Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it was removing all content that contains “stop the steal,” a phrase used by supporters of former President Donald Trump to question the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.
The social media company said that the move was an attempt to remove content that “could incite further violence” ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“We’ve been allowing robust conversations related to the election outcome and that will continue,” Facebook officials Guy Rosen and Monika Bickert said in a statement. “But with continued attempts to organize events against the outcome of the U.S. presidential election that can lead to violence, and use of the term by those involved in Wednesday’s violence in D.C., we’re taking this additional step in the lead up to the inauguration.”