Facebook is ready to engage in further and specific manipulation of the way content is seen and disseminated on the giant platform in order to suppress what they’ve decided is misinformation about the US election.
The measures that Facebook now intends to put in motion were planned ahead of time, anticipating trouble after a presidential election that is taking an unprecedented amount of time to count the votes.
The New York Times reports, citing two unnamed sources who the newspaper said spoke on Thursday, that Facebook wants to downrank any content with election specific “misinformation” in users’ News Feed, while at the same time putting artificial and intentional hurdles in the way they share posts and content.
Another measure will be to restrict distribution of Live Streams.
This means that more clicks will be required to navigate such content – likely with the goal of discouraging users from sharing posts. The insertion of extra clicks is referred to as adding more friction – and sounds like the exact opposite of good user experience.
Why would a social media company do that to itself? To live up to political tasks of controlling the spread of information put before it, while at the same time clearly (still) unwilling to simply censor and block unwanted content. Facebook wants to control people as well – these measures are said to be designed “to cool down angry Americans clashing on the network.”
But speaking anonymously, yet toeing the official line, the two sources said the reason was “heightened strife and social discord” that has been rising on Facebook as days go by and votes in the US election continue to be counted. The way users are reacting can be described as perfectly normal, including by being more active in their groups.
But while Facebook and other big social media players pride themselves as being those platforms where protests and social unrest (that often turn very violent) are organized in other countries, calling this their contribution to democracy, in the US this time, coordination of “actions” by those dissatisfied and suspicious that election fraud had taken place is immediately dismissed as “potentially violent” and will, it appears, be suppressed.