Facebook Inc (FB) has announced that starting today, it will be penalizing posts and ads that link to webpages that have “little substantive content and that is covered in disruptive, shocking or malicious ads.” Such posts and ads will be downranked so that the social network doesn’t show them as often as it shows other ads and posts, the company said in the announcement about the move today.
Facebook Inc (FB) rolls out another update
Facebook Inc (FB) said it intends to target posts users find to be “misleading, sensational and spamming” so that it shows fewer of them and instead favor “more informative posts.” The company said this latest update aims to “reduce the economic incentives of financially-motivated spammers.” Management explained that the algorithm change is one of the results of a user survey asking about what bothers them the most when it comes to their experiences on the social network.
Last year, the social network added a policy aimed at keeping advertisers that offer “low-quality web page experiences” from advertising on its platform, and today’s update increases the enforcement on ads such as these. The update also takes into account organic News Feed posts.
Artificial intelligence used to weed out content
In pulling together the update, Facebook Inc (FB) examined hundreds of thousands of webpages that are linked to on its social network to weed out the pages that have more ads – especially “disruptive, shocking or malicious ads” – than content. After digging through all the linked webpages, the company then applied artificial intelligence to try to understand whether any new links shared on its social network have characteristics that are similar to those it found to fall within the purview of what they’re trying to take action against.
Starting today, if the company’s AI determines that a particular post could link to the type of low-quality webpages it wants to discourage, it will downrank that post. This basically just means that the post might now appear as high up in users’ News Feeds. Also these kinds of posts may not be eligible to be an ad, the company clarified.
Facebook battles fake news
Facebook Inc (FB) will be pushing out the update to its algorithm gradually to all accounts over the next several months. The company said publishers that don’t have the type of “low-quality landing page experience” it is targeting might actually see an increase in traffic coming from Facebook Inc (FB). It also said that the update is just one of many ways News Feed posts are ranked, so publishers will see varying impacts.
The company drew a comparison between this update and its other ongoing efforts to fight fake news on its platform. Publishers of fake news usually have financial motivations because they publish clickbait designed to get clicks — whether or not it is a true news story. Blanketing a webpage in ads is another sign of purely financial motivations, especially when those ads are particularly shocking or eye-catching.
In addition to battling fake news, this update is probably also aimed at catching even more disturbing content like the video of an elderly man’s murder which was posted last month. Facebook Inc (FB) spent some time doing damage control after that because of complaints that it took hours to remove the video.