Fighting back after a whistleblower’s damning testimony earlier this week before a Congressional committee, Facebook spokesman Nick Clegg said on NBC’s Sunday Meet The Press that changes are coming to the social media outlet.
Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister who is now vice president for global affairs and communications at Facebook, said the company will reduce the presence of politics on people’s feeds after it lifted safety measures implemented for the 2020 US election. He claimed the move stems from user feedback seeking “more friends, less politics.”
The appearance comes after former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen testified this week that the company “intentionally hides vital information from the public” and “buys its profits with our safety.”
“One of the things we have heard from users both from the US and around the world since the election is people want to see more friends, less politics,” Clegg said. “So we have been testing ways in which we can reduce the presence of politics for people’s Facebook experiences.”
He claimed that Facebook implemented safety measures during the “polarizing” 2020 elections. Some critics have said the so-called “safety” measures were largely deployed against conservative voices, and critics have also claimed Haugen’s testimony seemed to call for more such censorship in the name of “safety.”
“It’s simply not true to say we lifted those measures immediately – in fact, we kept the vast majority right through to the inauguration. And we kept some in place permanently – so we permanently don’t recommend civic and political groups to people,” Clegg said.
“But it’s worth remembering what those measures are like closing all the highways in a town because a temporary one-off problem in one neighborhood – you don’t do that on a permanent basis.”
Clegg said that some of the measures meant “perfectly innocent videos” were also stricken. Facebook’s measures, he said, were “very blunt tools which were scooping up a lot of entirely innocent, legitimate, playful, and enjoyable content – and we did that very exceptionally.”
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