Facebook has outlined a few ongoing efforts and changes to the discoverability of Facebook Groups to cut the spread of hate speech and misinformation.
The restrictions on Facebook Groups are aimed to limit its operation and discovery, and eventually leading to removal during repeated violations.
Facebook Groups and their recommendations have always been controversial in nature. From Groups being cited as a medium for planning the attack on US Capitol, to ensuing caste-based violence in India, several reports have pointed out the abuse of this feature leading to real-world consequences.
The platform has outlined steps they think would limit harmful or hateful interactions. Facebook is working on having harmful groups removed from recommendations, and is altering their recommendation guidelines. The platform says they are trying to maintain a balance between not recommending harmful groups to people and not penalizing groups on similar topics that follow community and content guidelines.
Restrictions on Groups are being expanded globally. Civic and political groups have been removed from recommendations in the US. Although, users can still invite friends to these groups or search for them. Going forward, when a group violates rules, they will be shown lower in the recommendations.
The severity of restrictions on members and groups who violate or break rules would depend on the number of times such instances have occurred, until finally leading to removal. During instances, when Facebook considers the case to be of “severe harm”, the platform will remove the groups and users.
When users join a group that has Community Standards violations, they will see a prompt notifying them about the same. Invite notifications for such groups will also be limited, and the distribution of that group’s content will be reduced and shown lower in the News Feed.
Admins and moderators will temporarily be required to approve all posts when the group has a substantial number of members who have violated policies or were part of other groups that were removed for breaking rules. If an admin or moderator repeatedly approves content that breaks the rules, the group will be removed.
Members with repeated violations in groups will be blocked from being able to post or comment for a period of time in any group. They also won’t be able to invite others to any groups, and won’t be able to create new groups.
Given the nature and scale of consequences harmful public and private groups have in the real world, the steps do not seem to cater to the problem on a functional level, as long as harmful groups continue to exist, be active, and discoverable on the platform.