Facebook Once Again Pledges to Depoliticize Facebook

Illustration for article titled Facebook Once Again Pledges to Depoliticize Facebook
Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Staff (Getty Images)

After initially pledging not to recommend civic and political groups to its users, but then sort of continuing to do that anyway, Facebook once again affirmed its commitment to reducing the amount of political content that users see on Wednesday.

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During a fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doubled down on the company’s commitment to ramping down political content on the platform in the wake of an attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, saying that the policy was a “continuation of work we’ve been doing for a while to turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations.”

“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,” Zuckerberg said.

During testimony he gave to Congress in October 2020, Zuckerberg had claimed that Facebook had already stopped recommending all “political content or social issue groups” to its users in an effort to minimize political discord ahead of the contentious presidential election that was, at the time, just around the corner. An investigation published by The Markup on January 19 subsequently found that — surprise! —the platform had in fact continued to recommend political groups to its users throughout the month of December. Even more damningly, the investigation concluded that a number of the groups shown to Trump supporters had included posts explicitly calling for political violence, which is sort of not ideal, given the current state of things.

In addition to clamping down on recommended political groups, Zuckerberg also confirmed on Wednesday that the company is also brainstorming ways to reduce the amount of political content that users see in their News Feeds on a daily basis.

DISCUSSION

I know there’s no way to completely remove politics from Facebook or from any other internet platform for that matter. Still, the most annoying thing to me about Facebook is the small number of my friends who insist on hammering their political views home relentlessly every single damned day. Once they have done it once or twice, I know what they think and would rather hear about the rest of their lives.

And I’m speaking as a person who spent his entire career around government and politics. I’m fine with anyone who disagrees with anyone who holds the office all you want, but this “Not my President” shit is harmful to democracy no matter who or which side you are denying.

When I was 16-years old, I really liked the girl I was dating, except for the fact that we argued frequently about religion. She didn’t convince me of anything, but I did convince her to find a different boyfriend. That’s how I learned the meaning of Pyrrhic Victory. Consequently, I refuse to engage in arguments about anything faith-based, which includes both religion and politics.