Facebook Took Steps to Improve the Health of Health-Related Posts on News Feed

Posts with exaggerated or sensational claims will be downranked, along with those selling related products or services

Lose weight quick? Get a lower ranking in News Feed even quicker MCCAIG/iStock

Facebook made two changes to its News Feed algorithm last month to reduce the distribution of posts from pages that contain exaggerated or sensational health claims, or that attempt to sell products or services based on those claims.

Product manager Travis Yeh detailed the two algorithm tweaks in a Newsroom post.

The first reduces the ranking and, thus, visibility of posts that exaggerate or mislead people on health topics, such as by promising miracle cures.

And the second extends that action to posts that promote products or service based on dubious health-related claims, such as medications or pills that purport to speed weight loss.

Yeh said the process was the same as the way Facebook reduced the visibility of clickbait in News Feed: The social network identified phrases that were commonly used in these types of posts and lowered the rankings of posts containing those phrases.

He added that pages will not see any effect on their News Feed distribution as long as they avoid posts about health that exaggerate or mislead people and posts that try to sell products using health-related claims.

Yeh wrote, “People come together on Facebook to talk about, advocate for and connect around things like nutrition, fitness and health issues. But in order to help people get accurate health information and the support they need, it’s imperative that we minimize health content that is sensational or misleading.”

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