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Facebook cutting out click bait

social media Updated: Aug 26, 2014 15:39 IST

The world's most popular social network announced on Monday that it has decided everyone would be much happier if their Facebook newsfeeds weren't cluttered with links to potentially spammy articles that give users no real idea of content until they've clicked through.

Facebook says that these sorts of posts, which demand a user click on the link simply to know if the article is relevant, create a vicious circle. The more people (have to) click through, the higher the article moves up friends' newsfeeds.

Rather than arbitrarily decide to stop publishers from driving traffic to their sites, Facebook surveyed its users and 80 % of the time, when asked about what should be in newsfeeds and how it should be presented, people said that they want headlines that "helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had clicked through."

In order to give the site's 1 billion+ users what they want, Facebook will monitor how long a person is away from the network itself when clicking through to a link. If they return almost immediately, that will raise a red flag. So too will a lack of comments, shares likes or discussions about a link.

If a post fails on these criteria, it will be demoted. This doesn't mean that sites like Buzzfeed are going to see their click-through rate plummet, but it will mean that publishers will have to rely on more than provocation -- such as providing an intro too -- to get their pieces to rank prominently in Facebook users' newsfeeds.

As Facebook says in an accompanying blog post: "A small set of publishers who are frequently posting links with click-bait headlines that many people don't spend time reading after they click through may see their distribution decrease in the next few months. We're making these changes to ensure that click-bait content does not drown out the things that people really want to see on Facebook."