Facebook Is Reducing Clickbait In Your News Feed — And You Can Probably Guess How They’re Doing It!

Facebook announced on Thursday that the company has taken a major step in decreasing clickbait that appears on your News Feed. The social media giant defines clickbait as any headline withholding information in an attempt to lure a user’s click.

Facebook’s Alex Peysakhovich, research scientist and behavioral economist, and Kristin Hendrix, user experience researcher, issued a joint statement on behalf of Facebook saying the company relies on a set of core values that includes keeping users happy by showing them content they enjoy.

“We’ve heard from people that they specifically want to see fewer stories with clickbait headlines or link titles,” the statement said. “These are headlines that intentionally leave out crucial information, or mislead people, forcing people to click to find out the answer.”

A few examples of clickbaiting:

  • 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
  • The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless

The social media company’s first step to improving members’ News Feeds started in August 2014 with a minor algorithm tweak. The update aimed to reduce the distribution of posts people tend to click on before quickly returning back to their feed.

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg [Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]
In June of this year, Facebook then made their most aggressive change yet to their algorithm by prioritizing and showing posts made by friends more often than publishers.

“The move is sure to stir more anxiety among big and small publishers,” CNN‘s Brian Stelter reported back in June. “Media companies now depend on Facebook for a big chunk of monthly traffic and are sensitive to every tweak to the News Feed.”

The most recent update to Facebook’s algorithm isn’t as dramatic as the one back in June. Facebook’s latest move includes the implementation of a new system that will identify key phrases commonly used in clickbait headlines, similar to an email spam filter.

“Links posted from or shared from Pages or domains that consistently post clickbait headlines will appear lower in News Feed,” Facebook said.

Facebook has more than 1.7 billion members. The company’s crackdown on clickbait is simply intended to keep their members happy.

In an interview with the New York Times, Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president for product management, said he’s very aware of how anxious his work makes major publishers, and he’s doing his best to ease their anxiety.

“We want publishers to post content that people care about, and we think people care about headlines that are much more straightforward,” Mosseri said.

Facebook knows they wield significant power in digital publishing, but their transparency is meant to send a signal to all publishers that it’s time for a change.

“If you post 50 times a day and post one piece a clickbait, this shouldn’t affect you,” Mosseri said in an interview with Tech Crunch. “If you’re a spammer and post clickbait all day, this should affect you a lot.”

The good news for publishers and pages that frequently post clickbait is there’s a way to keep their content from being choked off.

“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.”

Facebook and Google combined direct 80 percent of all online traffic. This power has forced industries and publishers to adapt at a moment’s notice. The latest example of this is Facebook’s aggressive attempt to squash clickbait. Publishers shouldn’t lose sleep about Facebook’s growing power just yet — because all Facebook is trying to do is keep their users as happy as possible.

[Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]