Watch What You Share: Facebook Could Penalize You

Sharing a fake story about President Donald Trump, or any other public figure for that matter, could land you in trouble.

For a while, Facebook posts with misleading headlines have been doing the rounds, but not anymore. The social media giant has unveiled a series of updates that track down websites indulging in clickbaits, spammy content, and fake news.

On its official blog post, Facebook said, “People tell us they don’t like stories that are misleading, sensational or spammy. That includes clickbait headlines that are designed to get attention and lure visitors into clicking on a link. In an effort to support an informed community, we’re always working to determine what stories might have clickbait headlines so we can show them less often.”

Headlines shouldn’t withhold information, says Facebook

On May 17, Facebook rolled out three updates to ensure that people see more authentic stories and fewer clickbaits in their feeds.

First, Facebook will identify sharers of clickbaits at an individual level, in addition to the domain and Page level. The social media giant will divide its efforts into two separate signals — so they get to look at whether a headline withholds information or if it exaggerates information separately.

Facebook will start to test this work in additional languages.

Websites, which dole out headlines by withholding information intentionally, and leave out crucial details or mislead people, forcing them to click to find out the answer, will be targeted by these updates.

As per the new algorithm, the following types of headlines should be avoided:

•”When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS…”

• “WOW! Ginger tea is the secret to everlasting youth. You’ve GOT to see this!”

Headlines that exaggerate the details of a story with sensational language tend to make the story seem like a bigger deal than it really is.

“One of our News Feed values is authentic communication, so we’ve been working to understand what people find authentic and what people do not,” the company said.

Facebook warns content creators

“Publishers that rely on clickbait headlines should expect their distribution to decrease. Pages should avoid headlines that withhold information required to understand the content of the article and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations,” the company warned.

“We will learn from these changes and will continue to work on reducing clickbait so News Feed is a place for authentic communication,” Facebook promised.

Why people share?

A social media marketing firm by the name of Fractl conducted a survey of 2,000 people and looked at the motivations for these frequent sharers. The company found pronounced differences between genders as well as across Facebook’s frequent sharers and more casual users.

For 48 percent of respondents, the primary motivation for sharing content on Facebook was to entertain their friends. “A slightly smaller group of respondents (17 percent) wanted to express the issues they cared about. In third place is evoking an emotional response (13 percent). In fourth: providing useful information (11 percent),” Fractl reported.

According to the survey, women are 13 percent more likely to share content on Facebook to elicit an emotional response from their friends. This is especially pronounced as women get older, with 60 percent women over 50 who actively share on Facebook agreeing to the statement, “I share things that will make my friends feel something (happiness, sadness, anger, etc.).” Men are slightly more likely to share something to persuade their friends of their viewpoint.

About 31 percent of the respondents said that they shared content on Facebook to maintain a certain image of themselves. “Those users who had more friends (500-plus) are more cautious about what they post. They are 7 percent more likely to share content that maintains a certain image of themselves and are 9 percent more likely to share content that makes them look good,” the survey reported.

[Featured Image by Noah Berger/AP Images]

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