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Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Image

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Details: Moving forward, Facebook will expand some of its current News Feed tests that put less emphasis on certain engagement signals, like the probability that a user will share or comment on a post, in its ranking algorithm.

  • Instead, it will begin placing a higher emphasis on other types of user feedback, like responses to surveys.
  • The company will also begin testing efforts to limit political content in several new countries, including Costa Rica, Sweden, Spain, and Ireland.  

Between the lines: These efforts are part of a gradual effort by Facebook to make its users' experiences less political and contentious.

  • Earlier this year, the company began testing limiting political content in News Feeds in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and Indonesia. In January, it said it would stop providing recommendations for users to join civic and political groups.
  • User feedback showed people liked these changes.

The big picture: Following the 2020 election, Facebook tried to limit the amount of political content users interact with on its platform, but it is still regularly criticized over the amount of political misinformation it distributes.

  • Current events and breaking news content is most likely to be exploited by bad actors for misinformation, because stories on breaking news events are difficult to fact-check as they unfold.
  • Facebook has said that political topics only account for a small amount (6%) of the overall content that users engage with, although it's unclear exactly how the company defines political content.

What to watch: Facebook plans to roll out these changes gradually, so as not to catch too many political and news publishers off guard. It's likely that it will expand its tests over time to more countries.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Oct 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Facebook stories fill newsfeeds

Photo: John Minchillo/Associated Press

A gusher of Facebook stories hit the web Friday night and will cascade into next week, as a consortium of at least 17 news organizations unfurl a series branded "The Facebook Papers," based on documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Driving the news: The consortium's plan was for the stories to begin Monday. But one outlet after another jumped the gun last evening.

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.

16 hours ago - Technology

Facebook beats earnings, but misses on revenue

Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images

Facebook's stock jumped marginally in after-hours trading Monday after the company beat Wall Street expectations on earnings per share but missed estimates on revenue.

Between the lines: Facebook warned investors last month that changes to Apple’s privacy rules would weigh on its business, and that warning helped the company dodge a big stock slide today.