Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB ) said on Wednesday it is beginning to remove recommendations it gives global users for the social network’s political and social groups, a move it has announced to reduce the stress on the site.
The company also announced in a blog post changes intended to reduce the reach of groups that break the site’s rules, including showing them with lower algorithmic recommendations and alerting people when they join a group that has violated policies. previously.
Researchers and civil rights organizations have long warned that Facebook groups, a product the company has promoted as sites for people with common interests such as sports or music, have also been used to spread misinformation and organize extremist activity.
In an interview Tuesday, Tom Alison, Facebook’s vice president of engineering, said they are aggressively investing in groups.
He argued that the changes in recommendations for political and civic groups, which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in January, were due to users wanting to see less political content.
“They want us to cool down a little bit,” Alison said, adding that newly created groups on any topic would have to wait 21 days before being eligible for the recommendation to give Facebook time to understand how it would work.
Since 2017, Facebook has made groups a strategic priority, with Zuckerberg crediting the feature as a way to foster “meaningful connections.” Last year, he stepped up promotion for groups in news feeds and search engine results.
But during the coronavirus pandemic, Facebook stopped recommending health groups to users, saying they needed authoritative sources of information. It has also cracked down on certain groups in recent months as part of policy changes to curb “militarized social movements.”