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Facebook will punish rule breakers by down-ranking their posts in groups

Facebook is taking new steps to crack down on groups users who break its rules, even when they have done so in other parts of the app.

Under the new policy, Facebook will downrank content posted in groups by users who have broken its rules even if they have done so elsewhere on the company’s platform. The new rule will apply to any group member who has had a post removed for violating one of Facebook’s Community Standards in the previous 90 days. Those who have had multiple posts removed will have “more severe” demotions.

“This measure will help reduce the ability of members who break our rules from reaching others in their communities, and builds on the existing restrictions placed upon members who violate Community Standards,” Facebook wrote in a statement. The company notes that it already has policies that restrict activity from people who repeatedly break rules within.

But the latest changes go a step further because they will impose restrictions on users’ reach within groups even if they haven’t broken the rules of that specific community. A Facebook spokesperson says that these punishments will escalate “in both demotion strength and duration” as violations pile up.

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The change comes as Facebook faces increased scrutiny over its ability to police groups on its platform. While the social network has long touted groups as one of the more important parts of its platform, the feature has also been credited with fueling extremism and divisiveness on the platform. The company permanently ended recommendations for civic and health-related groups earlier this year.

Facebook has also looked to group admins and moderators to take more responsibility for toxic behavior that happens with groups. On that front, the company is also introducing a new tool called “Flagged by Facebook.” The feature will allow group admins to review rule-breaking content posted in their group before it’s removed by the company in order to help group members avoid receiving a “strike.” The admins can also appeal to Facebook or ask them to explain why the post breaks its rules.

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