Facebook is taking on Click Bait articles

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August 5, 2016 by Paul Dughi

button-1531109_1280Facebook is updating its algorithm (again) by updating the News Feed rankings to reduce the amount of click bait stories in your feed.

It won’t penalize individual stories, but rather assign a quality score to publishers for each story.  The more click bait stories that run, the less likely ANY of your posts will be seen.

We’ve heard from people that they specifically want to see fewer stories with clickbait headlines or link titles. These are headlines that intentionally leave out crucial information, or mislead people, forcing people to click to find out the answer. For example: “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS… I Was SHOCKED!”; “He Put Garlic In His Shoes Before Going To Bed And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe”; or “The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless.” –  Alex Peysakhovich, Research Scientist and Kristin Hendrix, User Experience Researcher, Facebook

Facebook researchers analyzed tens of thousands of headlines they classified as meeting the criteria for click bait:

  • Did the headline withhold information required to understand the content of the post?

  • Does the headline exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations?

For example, the headline “You’ll Never Believe Who Tripped and Fell on the Red Carpet…” withholds information required to understand the article (What happened? Who Tripped?) The headline “Apples Are Actually Bad For You?!” misleads the reader (apples are only bad for you if you eat too many every day) – Alex Peysakhovich, Research Scientist and Kristin Hendrix, User Experience Researcher, Facebook

The Facebook team then broke down the click bait article to identify common traits – similar to the way email spam filters go at it.  It then identifys the source publisher of these articles to find publishers that consistently use click bait headlines.  All of the material form that publisher will show up lower in the news feed.

“…websites and Pages who rely on clickbait-style headlines should expect their distribution to decrease.” – Alex Peysakhovich, Research Scientist and Kristin Hendrix, User Experience Researcher, Facebook

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