It’s important to us that people can discover and engage safely with Facebook groups so that they can connect with others around shared interests and life experiences. That’s why Facebook has taken action to curb the spread of harmful content, like hate speech and misinformation, and made it harder for certain groups to operate or be discovered, whether they’re Public or Private. When a group repeatedly breaks the rules, they will take it down entirely.
Today Facebook shares the latest in their ongoing work to keep Groups safe, which includes their thinking on how to keep recommendations safe as well as reducing privileges for those who break the rules. These changes will roll out globally over the coming months.
Improving Group Recommendations
Facebook knows they have a greater responsibility when they are amplifying or recommending content. As they work to make sure that potentially harmful groups aren’t recommended to people, they try to be careful not to penalize high-quality groups on similar topics.
The tension navigated isn’t between their business interests and removing low-quality groups. It’s about taking action on potentially harmful groups while still ensuring that community leaders can grow their groups that follow the rules and bring people value. Facebook tries to balance this carefully in the recommended guidelines, which can be found here.
As behaviors evolve on the platform, though, they recognize that they need to do more. This is why they recently removed civic and political groups, as well as newly created groups, from recommendations in the US.
While people can still invite friends to these groups or search for them, Facebook have now started to expand these restrictions globally. This builds on restrictions made to recommendations, like removing health groups from these surfaces, as well as groups that repeatedly share misinformation.
They are also adding more nuances to the enforcement. When a group starts to violate rules, they will now start showing them lower in recommendations, which means it’s less likely that people will discover them. This is similar to the approach in News Feed, where they show lower quality posts further down, so fewer people see them.
Restricting the Reach of Rule-Breaking Groups and Members
Facebook believes that groups and members that violate rules should have reduced privileges and reach, with restrictions getting more severe as they accrue more violations, until they remove them completely. And when necessary in cases of severe harm, they will outright remove groups and people without these steps in between.
Facebook will start to let people know when they’re about to join a group that has Community Standards violations, so they can make a more informed decision before joining. They will limit invite notifications for these groups, so people are less likely to join. For existing members, they will reduce the distribution of that group’s content so that it’s shown lower in News Feed. These measures as a whole, along with demoting groups in recommendations, will make it harder to discover and engage with groups that break the rules.
They will also start requiring admins and moderators to temporarily approve all posts when that group has a substantial number of members who have violated the policies or were part of other groups that were removed for breaking the rules. This means that content won’t be shown to the wider group until an admin or moderator reviews and approves it. If an admin or moderator repeatedly approves content that breaks the rules, they will take the entire group down.
When someone has repeated violations in groups, Facebook will block them 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. These measures are intended to help slow down the reach of those looking to use the platform for harmful purposes and build on existing restrictions that have been put in place over the last year.
There is always more to do to keep Facebook Groups safe, and they will continue to build and invest to make sure people can rely on these places for connection and support.