I am usually the first one to point out when Facebook goes off the rails or just does something pointless and stupid. So to be fair to the big enchilada of social media, I have to give it some props for making a move in the right direction and doing its best to get rid of link-baiting. And yes, I know you already know all about the existence of the News Feed algorithm — that isn’t what this is about. It’s a success story and reason to love what Facebook has done (unless you’re one of the sites I’m talking about in this post, that is).
Like so many of us, I found it irritating to the point of wanting to punch your puppy in the face when my News Feed would be populated with, “These people went looking for rainbow unicorns and you won’t believe what happened!” along with a link that led to a story that sort of, kind of, maybe marginally resembled the headline.
The recent change to the link-bait algorithm meant that some of the worst offenders wouldn’t be showing up in my News Feed quite so much, which means my blood pressure would go down — both good things.
And you won’t believe what happened: It worked!
One of the worst offenders was/is Upworthy. Its posts pretty much always lead with “You won’t believe this” sort of sensationalism. Often the articles have very little substance other than not-so-subtle yanking of the heartstrings or some variety of uber-liberal leaning. I may have discovered To This Day through it (not sure), and I am grateful for that regardless, but happy to not see Upworthy pop up everywhere on Facebook anymore — very much so.
Another is TMZ. Don’t even get me started on the salty headlines, with little facts or real info on them. “Guess which two celebrities duked it out on the red carpet?” Really? All flash, no substance and better off not hurting my eyes!
And in case anyone isn’t sure of how this wonderful mechanism works, the change to the algorithm will penalize and gradually “disappear” anything that people click to and then immediately away from (which usually indicates that it was a steaming pile of WTH?). So the next time you get suckered by BuzzFeed, the algorithm will take note, and you won’t see it showing up in your News Feed. Hooray for algorithms!
The takeaway? Rejoice that these posts will be shown less and less on your News Feed. Sure, you can go search for them, like them and share them on your News Feed if you want. But really, why would you? Don’t be that guy. Everybody hates that guy.
The only part to worry about here is whether some quick-read-type posts and links might be getting caught in the crossfire. How much fine-tuning will the algorithm get to determine what is a suitable amount of time to spend reading the linked material for it to be “worthy?” Will we have to write longer blog posts now? How long did it take you to read this wonderful post?
Needless worrying aside, kudos to the brainchildren in Menlo Park. You’ve saved me from an aneurysm and have kept countless mental trains on the tracks for another day.
Readers: Are you loving this change as much as I am?
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.