Facebook rolls out news feeds with less politics

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Facebook said Wednesday it began rolling out news feeds with less political subject matter in line with a plan outlined by chief Mark Zuckerberg to reduce inflammatory content.

The leading social network said it would begin testing the change “for a small percentage of people” in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia this week, and the United States in the coming weeks.

“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,” product management director Aastha Gupta said.

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The change won’t affect information about the Covid-19 pandemic and content from global health organizations or from official government agencies.

“As Mark Zuckerberg mentioned on our recent earnings call, one common piece of feedback we hear is that people don’t want political content to take over their News Feed,” Gupta said.

“Over the next few months, we’ll work to better understand peoples’ varied preferences for political content and test a number of approaches based on those insights.”

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The move comes with Facebook and other platforms under fire for enabling political misinformation and manipulation, notably during election periods.

Zuckerberg said last month Facebook is seeking to “turn down the temperature” on its sprawling platform by reducing the kind of divisive and inflammatory political talk it has long hosted.

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He said the social media giant will no longer recommend politics-themed groups to users and was working on ways to reduce the amount of political content served up in users’ news feeds by its automated systems.

“We’re still going to enable people to engage in political groups and discussions if they want to,” Zuckerberg said last month.

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