Facebook plans on dialing back clickbait in its newsfeed

Business / Editorial / Tech
clickbait

The practice of sensationalizing headlines to draw in a viewer isn’t anything new, just look at some of the newspaper headlines of the entire 20th century.

In an effort to establish itself as a trusted go to news source and shed any tabloid comparisons, Facebook is purging its news feed of clickbait articles. The company announced that moving forward your feeds should have less clickbait headlines and clickbait articles after receiving thousands of complaints a day from users. Facebook has developed a method to track news articles and identify headlines that could be clickbait. When Facebook finds a headline that falls into the algorithm it can then down rank the article and even the source so it doesn’t show up at the top of news feeds.

The system looks for commonly used phrases in clickbait headlines, similar to how filters for email spam work, Facebook said in a blog post. It categorized tens of thousands of headlines as clickbait by looking for headlines that intentionally withheld information and those that exaggerated the content of an article.

“What we hope is this will create incentives for publishers to post less clickbait,” Mosseri said. “We tried to be very concrete about what we defined as clickbait.”

The practice of sensationalizing headlines to draw in a viewer isn’t anything new, just look at some of the newspaper headlines of the entire 20th century. Then of course you have publications like the National Enquirer who have been using the method for many years with great success. It is important to remember that crafting headlines isn’t an easy task, especially in this digital and SEO age. Every publication is trying to get on the front page of Google, Bing and any other news aggregation service they can. In order to do so those publications have to follow some guidelines that help in being discovered by Google’s algorithms and bots, one of the those parameters is headline length.

Making a headline too long can hurt your article ranking on the search engines thus hurting the potential of being discovered when someone searches. This is where it gets challenging to make a good headline that offers up some information but not all of the information. After being in this business now for over three years I’ve discovered that it’s not always easy to write a headline that someone doesn’t think is clickbait. Hopefully Facebook’s new algorithm is granular enough to notice subtle differences in context and also factors in SEO parameters. We shall see.

What do you think of Facebook’s clickbait purge? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

  Source: MSN Reuters
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