Social media giant Facebook announced on Thursday that it would begin promoting public Facebook Groups’ content in the news feeds of users as well as in the SERPs, disregarding requests by watchdog groups to restrict the algorithmic group recommendations before the US elections coming up next month.
The head of the Facebook app, Fidji Simo, said in a blog post that the corporation would start surfacing recommendations in users’ news feeds as “related discussions” from public Facebook groups alongside a post or link. These groups are basically communities built on the platform, consisting of users who share common interests, and anyone can see the posts of these public groups.
Moreover, the chief also mentioned that the app would be showing public groups’ conversations outside the app, too, like in the search engine results.
Although the company refused to spell out when these changes will be rolling out, they did mention that tests will begin in the US only in a minimal quantity in the next few weeks.
Last year, the app made Facebook groups a strategic priority. In the context of that, they will be introducing new control tools for the 70 million+ users operating these communities to enable them to reject posts, drive discussions, and organize paid sponsorships.
This year’s group push has been a major success for the Facebook app’s engagement as per insider reports. On the other hand, however, Facebook has run into a streak of scandals over extremist activities in these groups, along with the increase in boatloads of QAnon, Boogaloo, and militia groups and communities promoting false information regarding health.
Eventually, Facebook has started deleting groups like these and limiting their recommendations to other users on the platform.
Facebook’s new groups push has come weeks after tech watchdogs, and several advocacy institutions requested the company to layoff its group recommendations completely until the results of the upcoming US elections are officially declared.
This association accused the company of prioritizing these groups regardless of the warning signals from researchers, alarming that the tools have turned into secret nurturing zones for misleading campaigns and arranging platforms for fanatics.
A former Facebook executive, Adam Conner, who is now the Vice President of Technology Policy at the Center for American Progress, believes that this decision of the company has risked expediting these acts further instead of stopping them.
Until the US tests are completed, we don’t know how these changes will impact the platform. Sure, Facebook has a lot on its plate at the moment, with all these new updates rolling out and their research going on across Facebook and Instagram. Let’s hope for the best and see how and to what extent the platform impacts the US elections 2020.