Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Winter may be coming for HBO’s streaming subscriptions, but it doesn’t have to for your news organization
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
May 17, 2017, 1:07 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: newsroom.fb.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Ricardo Bilton   |   May 17, 2017

Facebook engineers may be spending a lot of time trying to solve the platform’s fake news problem, but it hasn’t forgotten about the site’s other, equally persistent foe: clickbait.

Facebook said Wednesday that it’s further tweaked its algorithm to display fewer clickbait headlines in users’ News Feeds. The tweak targets headlines that either “withhold information intentionally leave out crucial details or mislead people” or those that “exaggerate the details of a story with sensational language tend to make the story seem like a bigger deal than it really is.” Facebook is evaluating those criteria as individual signals, which it says will let it better detect different kinds of clickbait headlines. It’s also now targeting clickbait on a post-by-post basis, which it says will help it target clickbait on a more granular level.

While clickbait has gotten less attention than fake news lately, both are a natural result of people using various tactics to game Facebook algorithms. Facebook’s interest in solving both problems isn’t entirely altruistic: by reducing the chances that users will duped after clicking a link, Facebook is increasing the chances of keeping those users around.

The latest News Feed tweak improves on a similar tweak from last August. Both changes work in part by creating filters based lists of specific phrases common to clickbait headlines (e.g., “you won’t believe what happens next” and “You’ve GOT to see this!”) Facebook also plans to extend its tests beyond English-language sites.

As with most big News Feed tweaks, this latest one is likely to unnerve publishers concerned about how their traffic might be affected by the effort, particularly if their definitions of “clickbait” diverge from Facebook’s. And change is likely to come quickly for some: Facebook said that sites that rely on clickbait headlines are likely to see lower News Feed distribution, though the effect is reversible. “If a Page stops posting clickbait and sensational headlines, their posts will stop being impacted by this change,” the company said.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Winter may be coming for HBO’s streaming subscriptions, but it doesn’t have to for your news organization
On the care and feeding of subscribers — and what happens when the thing they originally signed up for goes away.
The 016, a social network for Worcester, seeks to become a “delivery boy and booster” for local media
“You can create the best journalism, but if you can’t get it to an audience, this is a problem.”
This is how an Iranian network created a “disinformation supply chain” to spread fake news
Plus: Whether Americans believe climate change is caused by humans depends on how you ask the question, and WhatsApp clones are getting around some restrictions designed to limit the spread of fake news.