Facebook's new clickbait 'filter' is aiming for a more authentic News Feed

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The tech that keeps spam out of your inbox will soon be adapted to clickbait on Facebook — on Wednesday, the social media platform announced changes to the news feed algorithms that will put sensationalized and misleading headlines in front of fewer users.

Facebook already penalizes pages that consistently post the misleading headlines, but now that penalty will begin to roll out on a post-by-post basis. Facebook explains that the new algorithm works much in the same way an email spam filter does. The team looked at thousands of headlines categorized as clickbait and identified key phrases used in the link luring titles that aren’t used in others. Headlines with those commonly sensationalized words and phrases will be penalized in Facebook’s algorithms, which means they’ll show up later in the news feed and to fewer users.

Facebook used two separate qualities to define exactly what a clickbait headline is. First, clickbait tends to exaggerate the details, sensationalizing the topic. Second, clickbait tends to withhold certain information, designed to get the reader curious enough to click. Facebook shared the headline “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions and Saw This …” as an example of a title that intentionally leaves out critical data. The social media platform used both qualifiers to develop algorithm updates that are capable of recognizing more clickbait headlines on a post-by-post basis.

Facebook says that most pages won’t see any significant changes to their post reach. Of course, pages frequently relying on clickbait for interaction can expect to see declines in their reach if they don’t stop using headlines that withhold or exaggerate information.

Along with looking for clickbait on a post-by-post basis and flagging both headlines that withhold and sensationalize, Facebook is also testing the “clickbait filters” in multiple languages. The latest update, Facebook says, is designed to strive for more authenticity in the News Feed.


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