Clickbait clogs newsfeeds. What Facebook did next was PRICELESS!

You’ve seen them. You’ve probably clicked on them, which is exactly what they want you to do. And with headlines like “The result was SHOCKING” and “He opened the trunk and saw THIS,” or the notorious “You won’t believe #7!” how could you resist?

It’s clickbait, and if you’ve ever been suckered into a slideshow that had you scrolling and clicking ad infinitum, only to be underwhelmed by that “unbelievable #7”, you know how annoying it is. Fortunately, the crew at Facebook knows how annoying clickbait is as well, and they’re doing something about it.

Facebook poll categorizes what users find “informative”

Seeing as how frivolous surveys are a common form of clickbait, it’s only fitting that Facebook used a practical survey to combat it. Random participants were asked to rank articles in their newsfeed on a 1-5 scale ranging from least to most informative.

The survey results helped the Facebook team better understand user tendencies and preferences. From there, they created an algorithm to weed out sneakily-salesy content, no matter how sensational the headline.

How does Facebook determine what’s clickbait?

Headline phrasing was a big part of the new algorithm. Facebook didn’t come right out and say which phrases were on the blacklist, but it’s no real secret what they might be – users see them daily. Facebook will now punish sites that use the newly forbidden phrases by automatically demoting articles that have them in the headlines.

All headlines are subject to the new algorithm, but any detected use of clickbait phrasing will not condemn an article to a Facebook abyss. The algorithm assesses each headline’s appropriateness and ranks it accordingly. Less-deceitful, more-informative articles will appear towards the top of newsfeeds, while the more bait-driven ads will have to change or settle for a lower spot.

The result: “content that people care about”

On the topic of the new algorithm, Adam Mosseri of Facebook said “we think people care about headlines that are much more straightforward.” Consequently, headlines that “withhold or distort information” will appear lower and less frequently in newsfeeds.

The new algorithm encourages publishers to post content that better serves the user. No-nonsense content will bring readers in the right way and reward them with engaging information more often than not.

It’s safe to say that everyone, other than the sites that have made clickbait headlines their bread and butter, will appreciate the new changes. Now if they could only do something about those proud-parent baby photos and unwarranted political opinions…

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/05/technology/facebook-moves-to-push-clickbait-lower-in-the-news-feed.html?_r=0

http://adage.com/article/media/facebook-publishers-clickbait-headlines/305328/