cracking down on the frequent appearance of click-bait
headlines in News Feeds in a move that could spell disaster to
sites heavily reliant on social traffic such as Buzzfeed
Facebook defines click-baiting headlines as those posted with a
headline that encourages people to click to see more without
providing them with much information about what they will actually
see. “Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means
that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up
in News Feed,” writes Facebook in a blog post.
In order to help surface news content that users are actually
interested in, Facebook will be making it harder for articles that
are deemed “spammy” to appear in News Feeds, based on feedback from
users telling them what they don’t want to see. At the same time
will make a greater effort to ensure that links find posts from
publishers that are most relevant and interesting to a user will
Primarily Facebook is worried that click-bait content is
drowning out content that is genuinely of interest to people and is
therefore responsible for turning people off the social network. A
tweaking of its algorithm will mean that it will be harder for
certain publishers to manipulate the social network to guarantee
It gives the example of a fictional publication that has clearly
been created for illustrative purposes called “Celeb Style Weekly”. It uses heavy capitalisation, an obscure
picture and a mysterious “You’ll never guess…” tactic to persuade
people to click through.
According to the social network, its research shows that 80
percent of the time people want headlines that give them
information about the full article, so that they can decided
whether or not they definitely want to read it.
One way it intends to work out whether an article has turned out
to be interesting and valuable to people is by looking at the dwell
time — the time users spend away from the social network reading
it, before returning to Facebook.
It will also look at whether people are liking and discussing
the story, rather than just clicking on it. This will no doubt help
to show whether or not people are genuinely engaged by the content
they’ve discovered after clicking.
It has also said that it will prioritise links that are shared
in the standard Facebook link format, rather than those which are
buried in picture captions or other status updates.
The company is unapologetic to those publishers that rely on
click-bait headlines for traffic. “A small set of publishers who
are frequently posting links with click-bait headlines that many
people don’t spend time reading after they click through may see
their distribution decrease in the next few months,” says the
company. Facebook is making its position on the quality of content
perfectly clear, and if all goes to plan, it should benefit not
only readers and publishers, but its own business plan too.