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Facebook continues its war on clickbait by changing the Algorithm

by Bharath ChowdaryAugust 5, 2016

In 2014, Facebook said it was going to take steps to favor clear headlines over so-called clickbait, which it defines as content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page.

Now, the social media giant has revised its clickbait-tackling scheme, which for the past two years has been downgrading posts based on the amount of time Facebook users spend on the article after they click the headline.

In a change to its news feed algorithm on Thursday, Facebook said certain types of headlines would be classified as clickbait, those that “withhold or distort information.” Those stories will then appear less frequently in users’ feeds, the company said.


“We want publishers to post content that people care about, and we think people care about headlines that are much more straightforward,” Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president for product management for the news feed, said in an interview.

Thursday’s announcement goes a step further. Facebook spent months classifying phrases commonly used in clickbait headlines. Mr. Mosseri offered examples like “The Dog Barked at the Deliveryman and His Reaction Was Priceless,” or “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions and Saw THIS … I Was SHOCKED!”

Facebook analyzed tens of thousands of headlines, deeming as “clickbait” those that intentionally withhold important information and those that use exaggeration to mislead the reader.

Publishers who “consistently” post content with clickbait headlines will be penalized with lower placement in the newsfeed. If publishers stop using clickbait headlines, they will no longer be negatively impacted by the changes.

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