Originally posted at The Markup by Todd Feathers
Leaked internal Facebook documents show that a combination of technical miscommunications and high-level decisions led to one of the social media giant’s biggest broken promises of the 2020 election—that it would stop recommending political groups to users.
The Markup first revealed on Jan. 19 that Facebook was continuing to recommend political groups—including some in which users advocated violence and storming the U.S. Capitol—in spite of multiple promises not to do so, including one made under oath to Congress.
The day the article ran, a Facebook team started investigating the “leakage,” according to documents provided by Frances Haugen to Congress and shared with The Markup, and the problem was escalated to the highest level to be “reviewed by Mark.” Over the course of the next week, Facebook employees identified several causes for the broken promise.
The company, according to work log entries in the leaked documents, was updating its list of designated political groups, which it refers to as civic groups, in real time. But the systems that recommend groups to users were cached on servers and users’ devices and only updated every 24 to 48 hours in some cases. The lag resulted in users receiving recommendations for groups that had recently been designated political, according to the logs.
That technical oversight was compounded by a decision Facebook officials made about how to determine whether or not a particular group was political in nature…
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