AI recommendations are growing Facebook Groups, where disinformation can be rampant
Facebook Groups pose a major threat in this election season.
They've become hidden breeding grounds for disinformation campaigns and organizing platforms for extremists.1 And Facebook's own algorithmic recommendation engines actively grow these networks by promoting them to unsuspecting users — something the company has known since 2016.2
With conspiracy theories, disinformation, and foreign influence running rampant in Facebook Groups, the company must turn off Group recommendations until the U.S. election results are certified.
Tell Mark Zuckerberg: Stop Group recommendations until the U.S. election results are certified.
In recent days, the company acknowledged the role of Groups in spreading misinformation by discontinuing recommendations of health Groups to "prioritize connecting people with accurate health information."3 While this is a good step, this isn't a strategy — it's a never-ending game of whack-a-mole with devastating consequences.
Facebook has known about this problem for years, but ignored it while extremism grew on the platform. In fact, the company began heavily promoting Groups for the last several years — including a $10 million ad buy in last year's Super Bowl4 — even though they knew their own recommendation engines drove growth in Groups where racist, hateful, and pro-conspiracy ideas thrive. In 2016, researchers presented evidence to the company showing that "64% of all extremist group joins are due to [Facebook's] recommendation tools…" In other words, "[Facebook's] recommendation systems grow the problem." 5
Tell Facebook: Stop Group recommendations to protect the integrity of the U.S. election.
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Thanks for speaking out.
— The Mozilla Team
Shira Ovide, "How Facebook Can Slow QAnon for Real," NY Times, Sept 21, 2020
Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharaman, "Facebook Executives Shut Down Efforts to Make the Site Less Divisive," The Wall Street Journal, May 26, 2020
Tom Alison, "Our Latest Steps to Keep Facebook Groups Safe," Facebook, Sept 17, 2020
Salvador Rodriguez, "Mark Zuckerberg shifted Facebook's focus to groups after the 2016 election, and it's changed how people use the site," CNBC, Feb 16, 2020
Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharaman, "Facebook Executives Shut Down Efforts to Make the Site Less Divisive"