Facebook changes its rules to penalise clickbait-style headlines

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Facebook has declared war on clickbait by identifying commonly used headline ploys and pushing these posts down the rankings in a user’s News Feed.

Typical offenders include the familiar: “…and what happens next is hard to believe”, as well as: “…and his reaction was priceless”.

A Facebook blog post explaining the update said the platform considers a headline to be clickbait if it “withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is” and if it “exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader”.

Using a system similar to how many email spam filters work, Facebook can identify these posts and take action.

The change comes in response to feedback from its community of users and the platform hopes that as a result of the changes people will see more of the stories they want higher up in their feeds.

It follows an earlier attempt to reduce the distribution of posts with clickbait headlines by punishing stories that caused users to click and then quickly retreat back to the News Feed.

The News Feed algorithm sorts posts according to a user’s connections and activity on Facebook, as well as the popularity of a post, meaning in theory that more relevant content will appear higher up.

This latest change affects business “Pages” rather than individual users.

Said Facebook: “We anticipate that most Pages won’t see any significant changes to their distribution in News Feed as a result of this change.

“However, websites and Pages who rely on clickbait-style headlines should expect their distribution to decrease.”

By way of advice, it added: “Pages should avoid headlines that withhold information required to understand what the content of the article is and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations…

“We will learn from these changes and will continue to work on reducing clickbait so News Feed is a place for authentic communication.”

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