Facebook to run tests on 'political content' in its News Feed
Category: News & PoliticsVia: perrie-halpern • 4 weeks ago • 0 comments
By: David Ingram (NBC News)
SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook is once again tinkering with its News Feed to change how much politics people see, adjusting the company's relationship with politics in a post-Trump era.
The company said Wednesday that it was beginning to test different ways to rank political content in people's feeds to ensure posts about politics aren't being shown to people who don't want to see them.
"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, a Facebook product management director, said in a post on a company blog.
Gupta said that as a first step Facebook would temporarily reduce the distribution of political content for a small percentage of people in four countries: Brazil, Canada, Indonesia and the United States. A series of tests would continue over the next few months, Gupta said.
Facebook has for years struggled with how much political content to show people among other types of posts in the News Feed, a question that became even more important for the U.S. during the Trump administration. The company's decisions can have a major impact on other organizations, from newsrooms to people organizing for political change.
In 2018, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook would reduce the amount of news articles in feeds, a decision that rippled through the media industry as some news publishers saw dramatically fewer referrals. Facebook has also faced criticism that its most popular news posts are disproportionately from conservative sources.
Facebook will permanently stop recommending political groups
Facebook executives alluded to the latest News Feed tests on a conference call last month with Wall Street analysts.
"There has been this trend, I think, across society where a lot of things have become politicized and politics has kind of had a way of creeping into everything," Zuckerberg said on the Jan. 27 call. "A lot of the feedback that we see from our communities [is] that people don't want that in their experience."
The prevalence of political content won't affect Facebook's financial outlook for this year, David Wehner, Facebook's chief financial officer, told analysts on the call.
Political content makes up about 6 percent of what people see on Facebook, according to the company, although each person's feed is different and the percentage can vary widely.