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Facebook Tweaks Algorithm to Reduce Clickbait

  • VOA News

FILE - A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo as he poses with an Samsung S4 smartphone in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, August 14, 2013.

FILE - A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo as he poses with an Samsung S4 smartphone in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, August 14, 2013.

For lovers of celebrity gossip, miracle cures and weird tricks, your Facebook feed might not be as fun as it used to be.

The social media giant announced in a blog post that it was once again tweaking its algorithm that will reduce so-called clickbait from appearing prominently in the News Feed. Clickbait are stories that are provocative or sensational, causing readers to click on them.

“To address clickbait headlines, we previously made an update to News Feed that reduces the distribution of posts that lead people to click and then quickly come back to News Feed,” Facebook wrote in a blog post. “While this update helped, we’re still seeing Pages rely on clickbait headlines, and people are still telling us they would prefer to see clearly written headlines that help them decide how they want to spend their time and not waste time on what they click.”

Facebook says it will identify clickbait headlines. These typically “withhold information” and set “misleading expectations” for the reader, according to the company.

“For example, the headline ‘You’ll Never Believe Who Tripped and Fell on the Red Carpet…’ withholds information required to understand the article (What happened? Who Tripped?,” the company wrote in its blog post. “The headline ‘Apples Are Actually Bad For You?!’ misleads the reader (apples are only bad for you if you eat too many every day). A team at Facebook reviewed thousands of headlines using these criteria, validating each other’s work to identify a large set of clickbait headlines.”

The company said “most Pages won’t see any significant changes to their distribution in News Feed as a result of this change”.

It did warn that Pages that use a lot of clickbait-style headlines would see less distribution on Facebook.

“Pages should avoid headlines that withhold information required to understand what the content of the article is and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations,” read the blog post.

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