It's ironic that this comes at a time when Facebook is being chastised for prioritizing its own development over the public good, and when it's being questioned about how it encourages the spread of misinformation. It's interesting to note that, in the midst of all this, the platform is still experimenting with new features that would effectively allow for this sort of behavior.
Recently, user @AkramAlodini tweeted a screenshot of a new Facebook test that allows users to simultaneously publish a post to numerous Facebook groups.
As seen in this screenshot (shared by Matt Navarra), the new feature would allow Facebook users to crosspost an update to numerous groups in which they are a member, allowing for more streamlined sharing and, perhaps, more individuals sharing more material into more groups, more frequently.
Isn't this the very behavior that WhatsApp wanted to curtail last year when it imposed new limits on how many times users can re-share messages?
WhatsApp limited message sharing to five times per message in January of last year in an attempt to curb the spread of misinformation in the platform, particularly COVID conspiracy content. In order to limit the capacity for misuse of its network, WhatsApp later added even stricter message forwarding restrictions.
WhatsApp claims that this strategy has been quite successful:
“Since putting into place the new limit, globally, there has been a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded messages sent on WhatsApp. This change is helping keep WhatsApp a place for personal and private conversations."
As a result, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has essentially conceded that limiting the number of times a message may be forwarded, particularly in group chats, can have a significant influence on curbing the spread of misinformation. But now it wants to make that capabilities available on Facebook?
It appears to be a contradiction, which corresponds to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen's belief that the business will prioritize "its own interests, such as making more money," over the public good.
Sure, it's a small example, and there's no denying that being able to publish a Facebook post to many groups at once has its advantages, especially if you're passionate about a particular topic or interest and participate in multiple communities.
However, given the WhatsApp example, it appears to be a strange test.
In any case, it looks that Facebook is putting it to the test. Facebook has been asked for further information on the experiment, and we'll keep you posted as soon as we get it.