In the wake of recent contentious political events, Facebook has come under pressure once again to stop the spread of misinformation and potentially harmful content. That’s why the company says it will “temporarily reduce the distribution of political content in News Feed for a small percentage of people” in several countries this week before eventually testing the feature on a small number of individuals in the U.S.
Of course, this is a tricky area for Facebook. The company is already regularly accused of censorship and political favoritism, and a move like this will do nothing to dispel those notions. To ward off those criticisms, Facebook strongly insisted in its announcement that it is merely “preserving” the ability for people to safely interact with political content.
“It’s important to note that we’re not removing political content from Facebook altogether,” Facebook Product Manager Aastha Gupta wrote in a blog post. “Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to find and interact with political content on Facebook, while respecting each person’s appetite for it at the top of their News Feed.”
Facebook has good intentions with this move, and it may even help turn down the temperature of discourse on the platform. Still, it’s not great that a private company has so much control over public speech in the first place.
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