In recent months, Facebook has publicly touted many features that will help it control the spread of misinformation surrounding the presidential election. However, one significant change has flown under the radar: Facebook has stopped recommending for users to join political or social groups.
Beyond just the quiet roll-out, Facebook has also been coy about when this new policy will actually end.
“This is a measure we put in place in the lead-up to Election Day,” a Facebook spokesperson told Buzzfeed News. “We will assess when to lift them afterwards, but they are temporary.”
While stopping people from connecting with other users feels extreme, it could potentially help slow the spread of dangerous misinformation. Of course, this also poses a problem for the free speech rights of Facebook users, but the company seems to believe it’s a risk worth taking.
“I’m worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized, there is a risk of civil unrest across the country,” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a recent earnings call. “Given this, companies like ours need to go well beyond what we’ve done before.”
Time will tell if Facebook’s newfound dedication to “going beyond” is a good or a bad thing for users’ ability to post freely. But at least the company is taking its role in the election more seriously this time around.
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