Facebook Clamping Down On Websites Doling Out Low-Quality Content

In an effort to offer rich reader experience, Facebook is clamping down on web links doling out clickbait and low quality content.

On May 10, Facebook rolled out an update, enabling users to see fewer posts and ads in News Feed that link to low-quality web page experiences.

"Similar to the work we're already doing to stop misinformation, this update will help reduce the economic incentives of financially motivated spammers," said Jiun-Ren Lin and Shengbo Guo, who worked on this update.

This update will help people build an informed community on Facebook. "That's why we're always working to understand which posts people consider misleading, sensational and spammy so we can show fewer of those and show more informative posts instead," the duo said.

Facebook has been getting complaints from readers that they're disappointed when they click on a link that leads to a web page containing little substantive content and that is covered in disruptive, shocking, or malicious ads.

Last year, the company drew a policy to prevent advertisers with low-quality web page experiences from advertising on the platform. Now, the company is increasing enforcement on ads and also taking into account organic posts in News Feed.

With this update, Facebook reviewed hundreds of thousands of web pages linked to Facebook to identify those that contain little substantive content and have a large number of disruptive, shocking, or malicious ads. The company used artificial intelligence to understand whether new web pages shared on Facebook have similar characteristics.

"So if we determine a post might link to these types of low-quality web pages, it may show up lower in people's feeds and may not be eligible to be an ad. This way people can see fewer misleading posts and more informative posts," the duo said in their blog post.

These changes will roll out gradually over the coming months. Publishers that do not have the type of low-quality landing page experience referenced may see a small increase in traffic, while publishers who do should see a decline in traffic.

This update is one of many signals Facebook will use to rank News Feed, so impact will vary by publisher, and Pages should continue posting stories their audiences will like.

To make the website experience better and avoid seeing a decline in engagement, referrals or ad delivery, businesses should be careful of the following, the company warned.

• A disproportionate volume of ads relative to content. This includes advertisements, and not legal obligations such as cookie policies or logins to private content, such as paywalls.

• Featuring sexually suggestive or shocking content. See relevant policies for Sensational Content and Adult Content.

• Pages that contain malicious or deceptive ads which include Prohibited Content as defined in our policies.

• Use of pop-up ads or interstitial ads, which disrupt the user experience.

Beware of clickbaits

Headlines that intentionally leave out crucial information, or mislead people, forcing people to click to find out the answer will be affected.

Examples include the following: "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."

Facebook's algorithm 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.

[Featured Image by Noah Berger/AP Images]