Following Zuckerberg’s promise that Facebook would show less political content in the future, the company has begun testing just that.
In a blog post today, the company announced it would begin to “reduce the distribution of political content in News Feed for a small percentage of people in Canada, Brazil, and Indonesia this week,” with the US to follow “in the coming weeks.”
The company says it’s using these first tests to figure out the best way to rank political content, surveying users on their experience. It also clarified that authoritative COVID-19 information and content from official government agencies will be exempt from the changes.
Facebook says its goal is not to remove political content altogether or make it harder to actively find, but rather to find a way to respect everybody’s “appetite for it.” The company notes that political content only makes up 6% of what US Facebook users see, citing its own November 2020 report. It’s worth noting, however, that this report was made in response to evidence that the company saturated users with right-wing news.
Still, the company acknowledges “even a small percentage of political content” can have an adverse effect on their social media experience.
The imminent change does beg the question of whether reducing political content is really the answer. I don’t mind getting my news from Facebook; the problem is when I see misinformation in posts and comments alike. Nonetheless, most of us can probably use a little less politics on our social feeds.