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Facebook VS Clickbait

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Posted by luke on

Clickbait has to be one of the most annoying things about the Internet. An over-exaggerated catchy title that promises some highly valued information, yet only leads to disappointment every time. We all know it exists, but we can’t seem to help ourselves when it comes to clicking a title that promises a great piece of content. We just want to believe.

I had a look on the subreddit r/clickbait and this is what I found in the first couple of pages.

  • WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EAT 3 WHOLE EGGS EVERY DAY? YOU’LL BE SURPRISED WHAT IT DOES TO YOUR BODY
     
  • THE MOST PARANORMAL GROUP CHAT EVER
     
  • Hacked Pentagon Images That Prove That UFO’s Really Exist

You’ll notice that clickbait titles are renowned for the use of capital letters. TALKING LIKE THIS is almost a staple in the clickbait world tends to be a red flag to the let down that is sure to follow.

I had a look at the clickbait links above to see what they were really about. Number one just turned out to be a fact sheet on eggs. Nothing particularly surprising in the article, just that eggs are good for you in moderation (crazy, I know). Article 2 was actually a prank video of a group chat that was ‘paranormal’. The third title just linked me to a page selling a get-rich-quick scheme course (what?).

The last one surprised me. Although I know that clickbait rarely delivers what it says on the tin, it usually doesn’t flat-out lie and lead to something completely different. Clickbait has no shame.

FACEBOOK DID THIS 1 SIMPLE TRICK TO REMOVE CLICKBAIT TITLES!

Earlier this month Facebook announced that they would be using a new algorithm to punish pages that link to articles and videos with clickbait titles. In order to do this, Facebook manually classified thousands of clickbait links with a clickbait ‘score’ to teach its new algorithm how to detect clickbait. After a while, the algorithm was able to detect clickbait titles on its own.

From Facebook Newsroom: (http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2016/08/news-feed-fyi-further-reducing-clickbait-in-feed/)

We categorized tens of thousands of headlines as clickbait by considering two key points:

(1) if the headline withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is; and

(2) if the headline exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader. 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 headline “Apples Are Actually Bad For You?!”

FACEBOOK SAID THEY WOULD PUNISH PAGES THAT SHARE CLICKBAIT – WHAT THEY DID WILL SHOCK YOU!

Without consequences, rules are simply suggestions and it seems like Facebook is in no mood to simply ‘suggest’ anything in this situation.

Pages that share clickbait will be punished by losing visibility. If a page posts a lot of clickbait, this means that it will lose a lot of visibility in the news feed, meaning it will essentially be broadcasting to no one. For publishers and news outlets, this could be a devastating blow to their online presence, which is entirely based on visibility.

However, Facebook has said that they are willing to forgive those who commit the cardinal sin of clickbait posting. If they reform their ways, their visibility will be restored.

From Facebook Newsroom:

if a Page stops posting clickbait headlines, their posts will stop being impacted by this change.

This new change is in an effort to improve communication and user experience on Facebook. Much like Google’s obsession with user experience, it appears that authenticity is the new sacred cow for online advertising.

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