Facebook strengthens efforts against News Feed clickbait

Eric Abent - Aug 4, 2016, 1:19pm CDT
Facebook strengthens efforts against News Feed clickbait

If you’re anything like me, your Facebook News Feed is probably a mess of posts featuring Donald Trump, babies, and articles with clickbait titles. It isn’t exactly a secret that Facebook has a clickbait problem, and a big one at that. Despite previous efforts to trim down the amount of clickbait that appears in any given user’s News Feed, the problem persists, and it’s led Facebook to implement a new – and hopefully improved – News Feed algorithm.

Facebook says it’s enjoyed some success with measures it has taken in the past, but it’s finding that there are still many pages that are relying on clickbait titles to pull readers in, which means the previous changes Facebook made to its News Feed algorithm didn’t fully work. Today the company announced a new initiative, and a new algorithm, for sniffing out clickbait and decreasing its reach, therefore encouraging content publishers to stop using titles designed to pull in as many clicks as possible.

Facebook says it has designated thousands upon thousands of titles as clickbait based on two parameters: the first is whether or not the title withholds information and prevents the reader from knowing the context of the article, and the second is whether or not the title exaggerates in an attempt to mislead the reader. Those are definitely two surefire signs of clickbait, and after a team at Facebook went through and analyzed each headline to confirm they actually were clickbait titles, the examples Facebook had gathered were used its new algorithm to determine which worlds were frequently used in those titles and which weren’t.

This new algorithm, Facebook says, is much like the spam filters your email account uses, and over the next few weeks, it’ll be rolled out to identify both clickbait articles and the domains or pages that share them consistently. Frequent offenders will have their shared links positioned lower in News Feeds, potentially cutting back on the amount of traffic that particular domain or page receives from Facebook users.

One of the nice things about this algorithm is that pages and domains won’t be permanently punished for using clickbait headlines – or at least they don’t have to be. Should the offending sites and pages change their ways, the algorithm will stop ranking them lower in News Feeds. It seems like a pretty straightforward approach to trying to solve the problem that is clickbait, but let’s just hope Facebook’s plan of action actually works this time around.

SOURCE: Facebook Newsroom


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