Facebook to limit political content on News Feeds

A person reads tweets by Indian celebrities, one of the many backing the Indian government, on his mobile in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. It took just one tweet from pop star Rihanna to anger the Indian government and supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, after she tweeted about the farmer protests that have gripped India. Now, senior Indian ministers, Bollywood celebrities, sports stars, journalists close to Modi's party and a rare statement by India’s foreign ministry urging Indians to unite and denounce voices from outside India who try to break the country. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

The social media giant has been testing changes to its algorithm in the US, Canada, Indonesia, and Brazil over the last few months, and has now announced it is ready to expand the update to more countries.

According to the site, the change will mean “less emphasis” on political content when it comes to pushing news stories to people’s feeds, in a bid to slow the rate of misinformation on the platform.

Facebook said: “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.

However, the social media site is receiving a backlash for reducing political content, even though it also received criticism for the previous system.

Charlie Angus, a member of the Canadian House of Commons, believes the change will “throttle political conversation” on the platform, while some journalists are concerned about what the update will mean for their content.

Journalism scholar Valérie Bélair-Gagnon tweeted: “Yet another example of how platforms regulate/affect journalism with Facebook moves to lower News Feed’s political volume (and could reduce traffic to some news publishers, companies that post lots of political content). (sic)”