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New Facebook Group tools to tackle “problematic” content will just drive users into the shadows, experts warm

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Facebook has introduced a new tool known as Group Quality to evaluate private groups and scrutinize them for any “problematic” content. Experts say that this new feature introduced by the tech giant can potentially backfire and make matters worse.

For a long time now, Facebook was facing heat from the media for the fact that the private groups feature is harboring “extremists” and the spreading of “fake news”. As a result, the company wrote this post on Wednesday, introducing a new feature known as Group Quality.

“But being in a private group doesn’t mean that your actions should go unchecked,” wrote Tom Allison, VP of Engineering at Facebook.

This new solution by Facebook is said to implement advanced AI tools for detecting harmful content that violates the “community standards” of the communications company. Also, group admins will now hold greater power to control the posts in any given groups.

Group administrators can make their groups either “public” or “private,” which can now remove several groups from search results. Critics say that Facebook’s move will not curb misinformation and fake news, but, on the contrary, it may further push it deeper underground making it hard for regulators to filter or terminate such content from the site.

Benjamin Decker, the CEO of Memetica, a “digital investigations consultancy” said that the company should give independent researchers access to such tools; he says that this way, there will be a better awareness with regards to what’s going on in the private groups and communities.

“Many of the groups I study are now changing their privacy status to be closed and not visible, making it more difficult for content violations to be identified by outsiders. I am very concerned this will further allow conspiracy communities and violent extremists to further obfuscate their activity,” said Decker.

Earlier this year, Facebook had aggressively advertised its groups and communities feature; however, with rising groups and communities, there was a parallel increase in the spread of misinformation and fake news.

While the Group Quality feature was welcomed by experts, they’re unsure whether it will achieve the eradication of fake news and extremism in the groups.

“Once again, the question remains whether Facebook is committed to actively enforcing these policies when content or activity is in clear violation,” said Sharon Kann.


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