Facebook Cracks Down on Click Bait

8th August 2016

Facebook has announced a fresh crackdown on clickbait headlines in its newsfeed.

The articles have appeared from a number of sources over the last few years and use overtly tabloid headlines to drive traffic to the source website. These sites are famous for employing alluring phrases such as “you’ll never guess what happened next” in order to increase the flow of visitors.

The latest move to tackle the annoying marketing method appears to be a modification of the algorithm that Facebook uses to match content to users. A BBC news report suggests that the social media site has built a technology that scans for tell-tale signs of clickbait headlines on its news feed section – targeting phrases such as “you’ll never guess why” and “his response was priceless”. The system was created after a work group at the company manually reviewed thousands of headlines to analyse the content and identify common traits.

The company has said that an article will be marked as clickbait if the headline “withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is and also if they exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations.” The system does not take advantage of bounce rate or time on page information that other systems traditionally use as a marker of page quality.


Journalists Union Welcomes Facebook Clickbait Change

The system will be rolling out in the coming weeks, but has already been welcomed by the National Union of Journalists. The trade union had previously spoken out on the trend of online journalists having targets set for traffic generation, rather than being valued for the quality of their investigatory coverage or newsworthiness of their articles.

A deeper analysis of the issue carried out by Russian journalist Leonid Bershidsky for Bloomberg News, however, suggest that the narrow definition of click bait will still allow articles such as those typically promoted by Buzzfeed to appear on the site. This is due to the terminology used, that doesn’t withhold the theme of the linked article.

The changes once again highlights the need to create viable, high grade content to ensure long term interest in pages to ensure that your site or social media strategy is not penalised.