Facebook Battles Click-Baiting With New Policies


Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) announced some News Feed improvements on its blog today. The social network said it is targeting click-baiting headlines and making it easier for people to see shared links in the best possible format.

Facebook users complain about click-baiting

The term “click-baiting” refers to when publishers share links with a headline that convinces people to click without really sharing enough information about what they’ll see. Facebook said these kinds of posts usually get many clicks, resulting in them being shown to more people and appearing higher up in users ‘ News Feeds.

The problem with click-baiting is that it apparently goes against what Facebook users actually want to see. When asked about the kinds of content they would prefer to see in their News Feeds, 80% of them said they would rather have headlines with enough information to help them decide whether they wanted to click on an article before actually clicking on it.

“Over time, stories with ‘click-bait’ headlines can drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about,” reads Facebook’s blog post.

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Facebook on identifying click-bait

Facebook said it will be able to determine whether an article is only click-bait by measuring how long users read an article away from Facebook. If they actually spend time reading it, then it suggests that they like what they’re reading. However, if they go straight back to the social network, it suggests that they didn’t want to read it after all. So Facebook said it will take into account how long people spend reading the links they click on when ranking stories.

Another thing the social network will do when determining if an article is click-bait is consider the ratio of those who click on it to the number of those who share it. If many people click on the link but few people share or “Like” it, then it suggestions that the article was not valuable.

Facebook prioritizes shared links in a certain format

The social network said it is also planning to change the way shared links look in News Feeds. Currently, they appear with a big picture, a headline, and a little bit of text about them. Sometimes the links are shared in status updates or in the text caption above photos. However, Facebook said people tend to prefer links that are displayed in link format, which is how it looks when people paste a link while drafting a post, rather than links buried in photo captions.

As a result, they’re going to prioritize links that are shared in the link format rather than in captions or status updates.