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Facebook to Extend U.S. Politics Restrictions, Expand Them Globally, Says Zuckerberg

CEO says in Q4 earnings call the company is also looking for ways to reduce political content in news feeds

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday that the company is satisfied with policies regarding political and civic groups that it enacted for U.S. users during the 2020 election, and will extend them “for the long term.” In addition, Facebook intends to roll those policies out worldwide, and is also looking for ways to “reduce” how much political content users see in their news feeds.

The announcement came early on in Facebook’s fourth quarter earnings call Wednesday, as Zuckerberg discussed the company’s community goals for the coming year.

Zuckerberg began by boasting that Facebook helped “4 million people register to vote” in 2020 and saw tens of millions of people join communities that, Zuckerberg said, were beneficial to them. However, pointing to what he says is “an unfortunate decline in community participation” in the real world, Zuckerberg said he believes Facebook “can help.”

Zuckerberg added that “we need to make sure that the communities that people connect with are healthy and positive.” As part of this, he cited efforts to remove Facebook groups that violate rules against violence or hate speech, but also noted that “there are also a lot of groups that we may not want to encourage people to join even if they don’t violate our policies.”

This, Zuckerberg said, is why the company “stopped recommending civic and political groups in the U.S. ahead of the election,” a policy enacted around the same time it also banned all ads about politics and social issues.

“We’re continuing to find how this works,” Zuckerberg said, “and now, we plan to keep civic and political groups out of recommendations for the long term. And we plan to expand that policy globally.” In addition, Zuckerberg said, Facebook will also be “taking steps to reduce the amount of political content in news feeds.”

Zuckerberg didn’t provide a timetable for the global rollout of the policy or the change to news feeds. But citing “grassroots movements” and people who “speak out against injustice,” he clarified that Facebook doesn’t intend to prohibit participation in political activities or the formation of political communities and groups on the service.

“We want these discussions to keep happening,” he said, adding that “one of the top pieces of feedback that we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services.”