Facebook’s latest algorithm tweak will see less priority given to low quality, “clickbait” headlines on users’ News Feeds.
The social network said that they were making changes to the Facebook News Feed to further reduce the amount of spammy posts that have proved unpopular with users.
Facebook said it is measuring how long users spend reading articles they click on, and stories that caused users to go straight back to their News Feed will not reach as many readers.
Clickbait headlines are designed to pique your interest and encourage you to click, but the content delivered is not what was promised.
“When we asked people in an initial survey what type of content they preferred to see in their News Feeds, 80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through,” said the Facebook Newsroom Blog.
Facebook’s preferred content
This is only the latest iteration of the social network’s ongoing saga against spam and low quality content. Much in the same way that Google’s algorithm is constantly changing to provide the best user experience, Facebook has made several updates to weed out spam.
Facebook’s News Feed algorithm was updated in December 2013 to target the barrage of memes that have been circulating on the platform for some time. The update saw memes being deprioritised and relevant news articles given a boost in news feeds.
Who will be affected?
The debate over clickbait has been raging for some time, with some websites – such as The Onion’s Clickhole – choosing to mock the online trend. Twitter account @SavedYouAClick promises to help you avoid being a victim of clickbait and save you a click by telling what the link is about.
Although Buzzfeed and Upworthy have been deemed serial clickbait offenders, the point of this Facebook update is not so much in the content of the headline, but in the user’s engagement with it.
Websites utilising baiting headlines to generate traffic and social sharing will not necessarily see their content reaching less Facebook users – as long as they deliver on what they promise. If users are not bouncing straight back to Facebook after clicking on a misleading headline, there will be no reason for these posts to be penalised in the News Feed.
If you have concerns about Facebook’s latest News Feed tweak, take a look at the type of content you are promoting on your company Page. Clickbait isn’t necessarily the problem, but if your headlines are misleading users, Facebook is likely to catch on to this sooner, rather than later.