Facebook will permanently stop recommending political and civic groups to users, a dramatic change following one of the most divisive electoral seasons in history, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors on Wednesday.
“There has been a trend across society that a lot of things have become politicized and politics have had a way of creeping into everything,” Zuckerberg said, according to Axios. “A lot of the feedback we see from our community is that people don’t want that in their experience.”
“If people want to discuss [politics] or join those groups, they should be able to do that,” he continued. “But we are not serving the community well to be recommending that content right now.”
Zuckerberg also said Facebook has broad plans to limit the amount of political content in users’ feeds, although he did not add any clarifying details.
The move comes after the fallout from the 2020 election, when former President Donald Trump and his surrogates used social media to bolster lies of rampant voter fraud and to falsely claim that Trump had defeated Joe Biden. Biden, who was inaugurated earlier this month, won by more than 7 million votes, and Trump was permanently kicked off several social media platforms, including Twitter.
Facebook enacted an indefinite ban of the former president from its services, including Instagram.
But the late action did little to curb the divisive nature of the election, and a bipartisan chorus of lawmakers have lambasted Facebook and Twitter for their roles in amplifying misinformation.
“Facebook’s system of recommending political groups poses grave threats to American democracy and public safety,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg this week. “Many Facebook groups … are breeding grounds for hate, echo chambers of misinformation, and venues for coordination of violence, including explicit planning for the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.”
The social media behemoth first said in October it would temporarily bar recommendations for political groups in the U.S. The latest change would extend those policies globally, although Zuckerberg stressed that users would still be able to share and engage with political content on their own.
People can create public Facebook groups around shared interests, and anyone on the site can find and join them.
Zuckerberg said Wednesday he hoped the social media network’s changes will “turn down the temperature” on users’ feeds.