Facebook has reportedly put a measure in place that will see groups that repeatedly break community guidelines having to moderate posts for 60 days.
In an attempt to stem the flow of misinformation about the US election, Facebook has started putting some groups on “a type of probation”, according to a report in the Washington Post. Although voting is over and victory has been called for Joe Biden, a huge amount of false or unsubstantiated information is circulating due in no small part to claims made by Donald Trump about voter fraud and the legitimacy of mail-in ballots. Facebook and other social media platforms took steps to tackle misinformation in the run-up to the election, with the potential for Facebook groups to be put on probation just one of a raft of measures that is now in place.
The nature of social media means that misinformation can circulate rapidly and that can be harnessed by individuals to actively spread false or misleading information that helps to achieve their cause. Facebook has had to walk a line between offering an open forum for ideas and policing content that may prove harmful. Having been seen as reticent to do so, the firm was moved to put measures in place to tackle misinformation after foreign interference was shown to have taken place during the 2016 presidential election, but, this time around, there was the additional problem of misinformation coming from within the White House and being amplified elsewhere.
According to the Washington Post article, the probationary was put in place without being publicly announced, meaning it has apparently taken some groups by surprise. It is not clear if other unannounced measures have been put in place, but any such measures would be more difficult to avoid falling foul of than those in the public domain. Facebook also confirmed to the Post that the probationary measure would be temporary.
Facebook Groups Probation: How Does It Work?
The reported measure will see groups in which too many posts are violating Facebook’s community standards be put on probation for 60 days, with each post during that period having to be approved or rejected by its administrators and moderators. Facebook will monitor the success of the measure for each group, with failure to improve standards potentially resulting in a group being shut down altogether. It is hoped that this will encourage people running Facebook groups to take more responsibility for the content that is published within them.
Among the other measures that have been put in place, were a temporary halt on political ads after polls closed and the closure of a “STOP THE STEAL” group that had amassed 360,000 members. Facebook spokesperson Leonard Lam is quoted as having said the company was taking such measures to “protect people during this unprecedented time.” When the dust settles, we can expect updates from Facebook and other social media platforms about how they fared in their attempts to protect the legitimacy of the election.
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Source: Washington Post
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