Facebook to cut back on political content in News Feeds


Facebook revealed on Wednesday that it will begin to scale down political content in its News Feeds in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia this week, and will do the same in the US in the coming weeks.

The social networking giant said it would “temporarily reduce” the content for a “small percentage of people” in those countries.

“​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​,” Aastha Gupta,​ Facebook’s product management director, wrote in a blog post.

She added that information from official government agencies and services will not be affected, as well as updates about the coronavirus pandemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Facebook political ad for Trump asking users to take a media accountability survey.
Facebook political ad for Trump asking users to take a media accountability survey.
Alamy Stock Photo

​”To determine how effective these new approaches are, we’ll survey people about their experience during these tests. It’s important to note that we’re not removing political content from Facebook altogether​,” Gupta said.​

​”​Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to find and interact with political content on Facebook, while respecting each person’s appetite for it at the top of their News Feed.​”

CEO Mark Zuckerbeg said last month that he wanted to “turn down the temperature” of political news on the site because “people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services.”

“Based on our analyses in the US, political content only makes up about 6% of what people see on Facebook. And although each person’s News Feed is different, we know even a small percentage of political content can impact someone’s overall experience​,” Gupta wrote in the post.

Gupta noted that Facebook allows its users to manage its News Feed, with the “like” tool that allows them to choose people and pages they want to prioritize, including the ability to hide posts and to shut off political ads.

“But we’re always trying to make News Feed better, and this means finding a new balance of the content people want to see,” Gupta said, adding, “As we embark on this work, we’ll share what we learn and the approaches that show the most promise.​”​

Facebook, which along with Twitter banned former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, has come under criticism that the social networking site censors conservative voices.

Citing “misinformation” posted on its site, Facebook announced in September that it would suspend political ads beginning the week before the November presidential election.

“This election is not going to be business as usual,” Zuckerberg wrote in a lengthy post on his Facebook profile. “We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy.”