Facebook Wants to Rid Your News Feed of Clickbait

Facebook hopes to catch clickbait in the algorithm net it is using to clean up its News Feed.

Facebook hopes to catch clickbait in the algorithm net it is using to clean up its News Feed.

Research scientist Alex Peysakhovich and user experience researcher Kristin Hendrix detailed the latest change to the social network’s News Feed algorithm in a Newsroom post, saying that the tweak was a response to feedback from users.

Peysakhovich and Hendrix said most pages should not feel any impact from this change, other than pages that “rely on clickbait-style headlines.”

They described the update to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm as follows:

We’ve heard from people that they specifically want to see fewer stories with clickbait headlines or link titles. These are headlines that intentionally leave out crucial information, or mislead people, forcing people to click to find out the answer. For example:

  • When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS … I Was SHOCKED!
  • He Put Garlic In His Shoes Before Going To Bed And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe
  • The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless

To address this feedback from our community, we’re making an update to News Feed ranking to further reduce clickbait headlines in the coming weeks. With this update, people will see fewer clickbait stories and more of the stories they want to see higher up in their feeds.

According to Peysakhovich and Hendrix, Facebook attempts to determine which headlines are clickbait by searching for those that withhold key information on the subject of the article and those that create “misleading expectations,” and they added:

From there, we built a system that looks at the set of clickbait headlines to determine what phrases are commonly used in clickbait headlines that are not used in other headlines. This is similar to how many email spam filters work.

Our system identifies posts that are clickbait and which web domains and pages these posts come from. Links posted from or shared from pages or domains that consistently post clickbait headlines will appear lower in News Feed. News Feed will continue to learn over time—if a page stops posting clickbait headlines, their posts will stop being impacted by this change. We’ll continue to update how we identify clickbait as we improve our systems and hear more from people using News Feed.

Readers: What are your thoughts on the latest change to Facebook’s News Feed?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.