Facebook revises the News feed Algorithm to minimize clickbait

Facebook newsfeed algorithm webeesocial reduce clickbait

There is no shame in accepting that all of us have been a victim of clickbaiting headlines, specially on Facebook. Not only are they annoying but they are misleading and lead to disappointment when the landing page opens up. Also, websites like Scoopwhoop, Buzzfeed, Topyaps etc. have sponsored content suggestions and their headlines are way too gimmicky but who can resist from clicking on them? Look at some of these links below –

WeBeeSocial Facebook Clickbait screenshot
Indians particularly have some intense fondness for click-bait videos and articles which they come across on social media. Our country ranks second in the world when it comes to falling for social media scams. This was mentioned in the Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) compiled by by Symantec (a software security company).

Almost 6% of victims of all social media scams are from India, which is second behind United States which has a whopping 30% of all worldwide attacks.(Read more on this here)

Facebook does understand the pain and suffering caused by such misleading headlines. They have been fighting this battle on content quality since a long time. The first revision of their News Feed algorithm (in 2013) was done to boost the organic reach of ‘high quality content’, because the feed was cluttered with cat pictures and clickbait headlines. Hence Facebook has been fighting this war since a very long time and now, they have found a new way to crack down on these misleading posts.

Facebook announced this via their  official blog article. They said –

“One of our News Feed values is to have authentic communication on our platform. People have told us they like seeing authentic stories the most. That’s why we work hard to understand what type of stories and posts people consider genuine, so we can show more of them in News Feed. We also work to understand what kinds of stories people find misleading and spammy to help make sure people see those less.”

What this mean is that certain types of headlines would be categorized as click-baiting, specially those that “withhold or distort information.” These stories will then appear less frequently in users news feeds. The organic reach for such article posts will be reduced.

In the previous News feed update, Facebook tracked such articles by mapping how  a users returns to his News feed quickly after clicking on an article post. They crunched the numbers for all such posts and were able to identify posts which were being clicked but not read. Still many websites were able to use clickbait and get traffic on their pages. Hence now Facebook is updating the News Feed by using a new system that identifies phrases that are commonly used in clickbait headlines.

Their approach to this problem can be narrowed down to  two key pain points:

  1. The headline fails to explain what the content of the article is.
    For example, the headline “You’ll Never Believe Who was spotted in Sultan…” withholds information required to understand the article (What happened? Who did a cameo?)
  2. The headline exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader.
    For example, the headline “Apples Are Actually Bad For You?!” misleads the reader (apples are only bad for you if you eat too many every day).

This system looks at a set of clickbait headlines to determine what phrases are commonly used in clickbait headlines that are not used in other headlines. This is similar to how many email spam filters work.

Facebook said that –

“Our system identifies posts that are clickbait and which web domains and Pages these posts come from. Links posted from or shared from Pages or domains that consistently post clickbait headlines will appear lower in News Feed. News Feed will continue to learn over time — if a Page stops posting clickbait headlines, their posts will stop being impacted by this change. We’ll continue to update how we identify clickbait as we improve our systems and hear more from people using News Feed.”

If you post 10 times a day and only 2-3 of them rely on click baiting then this might not affect your page that severely but, websites and Pages who rely heavily on clickbait-style headlines should expect their distribution to decrease. Pages should refrain from creating article headlines that withhold information required to understand what the content of the article is and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations.
You can read more about Facebook’s content publishing best practices here.

Also read: The beginner’s guide to e-mail marketing in 2016
WeBeeSocial is a full service creative digital marketing agency in New Delhi India. Our In-house creative team can help you write great content pieces which adhere to the publishing norms of various social media channels. Our Copywriters take pride in following the best content practices. Read more here. 

One thought on “Facebook revises the News feed Algorithm to minimize clickbait

  • Really good change this will help to getout those … Post that have no reason to post on FB. Like.. “Jaadu dekho like karo” share karo nahi toa ye ho jayega wo ho jayegaa blaa blaaa..

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