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Facebook could slow down news feeds to curb civil unrest during election: report

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 10/26/2020 David Matthews

Facebook is preparing to possibly roll out a set of tools it uses in “at-risk” countries to slow down civil unrest during next week’s presidential election, according to a report.

Facebook has a number of options it could take including “slowing the spread of viral content and lowering the bar for suppressing potentially inflammatory posts” and “tweaking the news feed to change what types of content users see," the Wall Street Journal reported.

However, the social media colossus only plans to put these restrictions in place in the event of election-related violence (something many others are fearful of and preparing for). However, during a staff meeting CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “a decisive victory from someone” could “be helpful for clarity and for not having violence or civil unrest after the election” which would reduce Facebook’s need to step in.

However, if deployed, the measures “could suppress some good-faith political discussion."

a close up of a screen: FILE - This May 16, 2012 photo shows the Facebook app logo on a mobile device in Philadelphia. © Matt Rourke FILE - This May 16, 2012 photo shows the Facebook app logo on a mobile device in Philadelphia.

FILE - This May 16, 2012 photo shows the Facebook app logo on a mobile device in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/)

Facebook developed the tools after a United Nations report found that the platform had been used to organize violence and other human rights abuses against Muslims in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. The plot against Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer which was foiled by the FBI earlier this month was partially planned on Facebook, according to reports.

The platform drew cries of censorship from Republicans earlier in October when it reduced users' ability to share widely disputed reports about the business dealings of Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Facebook has drawn similar complaints by banning accounts and pages associated with election and coronavirus misinformation, the Qanon conspiracy theory and the Boogaloo movement, an anti-government militia that wishes to stoke a civil war.

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