BACK IN FEBRUARY, Facebook announced a little experiment. It would reduce the amount of political content shown to a subset of users in a few countries, including the US, and then ask them about the experience. “Our goal is to preserve the ability for people to find and interact with political content on Facebook, while respecting each person’s appetite for it at the top of their News Feed,” Aastha Gupta, a product management director, explained in a blog post.
On Tuesday morning, the company provided an update. The survey results are in, and they suggest that users appreciate seeing political stuff less often in their feeds. Now Facebook intends to repeat the experiment in more countries and is teasing “further expansions in the coming months.” Depoliticizing people’s feeds makes sense for a company that is perpetually in hot water for its alleged impact on politics. The move, after all, was first announced just a month after Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, an episode that some people, including elected officials, sought to blame Facebook for. The change could end up having major ripple effects for political groups and media organizations that have gotten used to relying on Facebook for distribution.