Facebook continues to limit political content on the news feed of its users worlwide, as it is testing its “less political” news feed in 75 more countries, the company announced as an update on its blog post published Februray 2021.
The social media giant first rolled out the measure to “a small percentage of users” in the US, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia in the same month. It was expanded to Costa Rica, Sweden, and Ireland six months later in August. The recent update then brings the total number of countries involved to 80.
According to a report by Yahoo Finance, Facebook didn’t identify the new countries getting the test, but a spokesperson confirmed that like before, the company is showing the news feed changes to “a small percentage of people” in each country.
The spokesperson also noted that countries with upcoming elections and those “at higher risk of conflict” are not included in the tests.
Facebook’s update comes after Facebook’s former data scientist Frances Haugen testified before the US Congress about the company’s regulations, which “intentionally hides vital information from the public.”
In an interview with NBC’s Meet The Press program on October 12, Facebook VP for global affairs Nick Clegg said that the measure is being implemented, as users had expressed a desire to see “more friends, less politics” on the platform.
He also noted that contrary to the whistleblower’s claims, it is “not true” that the platform lifted some security measures after the 2020 US election. He said it is now “going even further” to reduce the presence of politics on people’s feeds.
“One of the things we have heard from users both from the US and around the world since the election is people want to see more friends, less politics,” Cregg said. “So we have been testing ways in which we can reduce the presence of politics for people’s Facebook experiences.”
“It’s simply not true to say we lifted those measures immediately. In fact, we kept the vast majority right through to the inauguration. And we kept some in place permanently. So we permanently don’t recommend civic and political groups to people,” he said.
Cregg added that apart from affecting several publishers, Facebook’s “less political” news feed will not be beneficial for all in the long run.
“But it’s worth remembering [t]hat those measures are like closing all the highways in a town,” Cregg continued. “Because a temporary one-off problem in one neighbourhood, you don’t do that on a permanent basis.”