Facebook temporarily suspends recommendations for new and political groups

Facebook users gather in groups to chat about shared interests, but the online spaces have also been used to spread misinformation.

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Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
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Queenie Wong

Facebook has been taking new steps to curb the spread of misinformation ahead of the US elections.

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook  has temporarily stopped recommending new and political groups ahead of the US elections amid concerns about misinformation, the company said Friday.

"This is a measure we put in place in the lead-up to Election Day. We will assess when to lift them afterwards, but they are temporary," Facebook spokeswoman Liz Bourgeois said in a statement.

The world's largest social network has been making a stronger push to get people to join groups, which are public and private online spaces where Facebook users gather to chat about shared interests such as parenting or cooking. But people have also used Facebook groups to share conspiracy theories, misinformation and hate speech during the presidential election.

Recommendations have the potential to fuel the spread of extremism and misinformation on social networks. A 2016 internal Facebook report found that "64% of all extremist group joins" were because of the company's recommendation tools, The Wall Street Journal reported in May.

On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told lawmakers during a Senate hearing that the company has "taken the steps to stop recommendations in groups for all political content or social issue groups as a precaution." Zuckerberg was testifying alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai about Section 230, a federal law that shields online platforms from liability for user-generated content.

More than 1.8 billion people use Facebook groups every month, according to the company.