You may have heard at the weekend that Facebook is planning on reducing the amount of click-bait headlines on your News Feed, but will this really make any difference to our experience of the social network?
In case you don’t know what click-bait is, it refers to those articles with really enticing headlines (usually involving a question) that don’t really give you much detail about the actual content of the article. They’re the ones you click on really excitedly, just to get disappointed by the fact that the answer to ‘Is Breaking Bad returning for a sixth season?’ is no, even though you could’ve guessed that anyway.
Click-bait articles have long taken advantage of Facebook’s news feed algorithm, since the number of clicks on a article is one of the metrics that determines the article placement within the feed as well as increasing the number of people that will see the article. However, in the Facebook Newsroom, the social media website revealed that, due to the misleading headlines on these articles, they are often marked as spam when the user returns to Facebook, which is why the social network is changing its algorithm.
To combat click-bait, Facebook is going to track the length of time that the user spends away from Facebook reading the article. For instance, if a user clicks on an article and only spends a few seconds before returning to Facebook, that article will be devalued in the feed.
As well as the time measurement, Facebook will also add up the number of social actions that occur on the article and compare that against the number of clicks the article receives. For example, if an article receives thousands of clicks, but very few likes or comments on the Facebook post, that factor will reduce the prominence of the article in the feed.
While this does seem like a good way of getting rid of those annoying articles that don’t actually tell you anything, we’re not too sure about using the amount of interaction as a way of banishing them. We’re pretty sure these articles usually contain a lot of comments, saying ‘This article is rubbish’ etc., so doing that will just make the article more popular.