Clickbait, the ever growing crutch of modern digital media consumption, used to be quite a decent method of getting, well, clicks. Today however, clickbait has reduced itself to annoying articles that fill up newsfeeds with little to no substance. Most of the time these articles will have you click through multiple pages to obtain information the could have been placed on a single page; or prove to be classic bait-and-switch articles where the headlines promise information that is not covered in the actual reporting.
Now, as part of their move towards more genuine content and honest headlines, Facebook is cracking down on clickbait. On a post on their official blog, the social network explained that people prefer to see authentic stories. They continued to say that “[Facebook works] hard to understand what type of stories and posts people consider genuine, so [Facebook] can show more of them in News Feed”.
The company added that they have previously implemented ways to reduce clickbait. This new move will improve on their previous efforts by doing the following:
“First, we categorised tens of thousands of headlines as clickbait by considering two key points: (1) if the headline withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is; and (2) if the headline exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader. 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). A team at Facebook reviewed thousands of headlines using these criteria, validating each other’s work to identify a large set of clickbait headlines”.
Using these points, Facebook will identify posts that are disingenuous. These links will then be ranked lower in News Feed, which will employ an algorithm that continue to learn with time. The more clickbait titles that a page posts, the more impacted their News Feed ranking will be.
This is a very good move for the social network. Hopefully this will discourage more websites that practise clickbait… I am looking at you Buzzfeed!