Facebook puts groups on 'probation' for repeatedly spreading disinformation

It's determined to keep groups from spreading false election claims.

Facebook’s post-election crackdown on groups is extending beyond bans. The company told the Washington Post that it’s now putting political and social groups on probation if they repeatedly violate community standards. If Facebook makes that call for a given group, administrators and moderators will have to approve each post for the next 60 days. There won’t be a way to appeal.

The social network was implementing the approach to “protect people during this unprecedented time,” Facebook representative Leonard Lam said in reference to the vote.

It’s not clear just how many groups are facing this probation, although one for the city of Aberdeen, Washington is already subject to the new rules.

It’s not a surprising move. Facebook has taken numerous steps to limit the spread of misinformation about the US election, including alerts about the state of the election as well as talk of limited sharing. The firm banned the “Stop the Steal” group, which rallied around unsupported claims of voter fraud, after numerous members called for violence.

Whether or not this works isn’t certain. Determined groups could still approve posts regardless of their accuracy, and it’s not clear Facebook will catch every group that spreads false claims. This also won’t allay conservative claims of censorship, and there’s a chance it could ensnare groups that simply weren’t paying close attention to their content. If the enforcement is widespread and consistent, though, it could discourage groups that knowingly promote or tolerate disinformation.