Talking tech since 2003

According to an update from Facebook, users are going to see less click-bait on their newsfeed in the future.

If you’re unsure of what click-bait is––though I’d bet you’ve seen it––it’s when a publisher posts a link with a headline that reveals next to nothing about the content, but is worded in such a way as to attract a click.

This one was actually from my own newsfeed.
This one is from my own newsfeed.

In the update, researcher Khalid El-Arini and product specialist Joyce Tang say what we’ve all known and felt for a very long time, no one wants to see click-bait. 80% of people that responded to a survey said they prefer headlines that inform more substantively on the content of the article.  Which just leaves me wondering what the other 20% were thinking. So, accordingly, Facebook is going to work to slim down on the amount of click-bait that appears on everyone’s newsfeed.

In terms of journalistic quality, many have bemoaned the rise of click-bait––and I’m right there with them. If I, for some reason, am baited by click-bait, I leave feeling mentally ill. Why? Because I have a flair for drama. But mainly because they’re not about getting genuine information to people, they’re about fooling advertisers into thinking the website has more traffic than it actually does. And I don’t want to be a part of that.

So how will Facebook determine what is and what is not click-bait? It’s a bit of a subjective issue, but they will be taking into account two major factors:

  1. How much time a users spends on an article after it’s been clicked.
  2. How many people like, share, or comment on a story.

The first seems like a very sound method, but I’m a little wary of the second. I scroll through my newsfeed constantly, but I usually never like, comment, or share stories that I read and genuinely enjoyed. All in all, though, I expect these to both be effective at cleaning up the streets of Facebook, so to speak.

There was no indication of how long-term a project it would be, but here’s to hoping we see some change sooner rather than later.

[Facebook newsroom]

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