Facebook has recently announced an upcoming change to its news feed which it hopes will weed out clickbait. This change has been brought about by users of the platform who have complained about headlines which withhold information or mislead readers. The post also notes that many users prefer news stories which are “authentic.”
Facebook has attempted to deal with clickbait in a previous update back in 2014. With that change, the site began tracking how long a person was away from Facebook after clicking a link. If people frequently returned to Facebook in a very short time after clicking the link, it was determined to be clickbait. That system also compares the ratio of clicks to likes and shares to determine if people clicking the link found it valuable. Posts which are determined to be clickbait by those methods are given a lower ranking in the news feed.
However, Facebook found that method to be insufficient to deal with its clickbait problem and came up with a new system. This system works by using a predetermined set of clickbait headlines to find common phrases. The system will then identify other headlines as clickbait if they have those phrases. The post states that it works similar to an email spam filter. It will then look at news stories which are shared on Facebook to determine which domains commonly feature clickbait headlines. Domains which frequently use clickbait headlines will be given a lower priority in the news feed. Since the system is constantly updating, sites which change their ways and stop using clickbait headlines will eventually rise up in the news feed.
Facebook states that most sites should see little impact on their views based on these changes, and only sites which rely on clickbait should have anything to worry about. The post gives the following advice, “Pages should avoid headlines that withhold information required to understand what the content of the article is and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations.”
Is this a positive change that will improve Facebook’s news feed? Leave your comments below.