VR World

Cute Cat Pictures Beware: Facebook Working on Killing Clickbait

An example of clickbait, provided by Facebook.

Clickbait comes in many forms, but Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is trying to kill it all.

Some publishers use loaded, inflammatory headlines on Facebook posts or pictures requesting the user like or share it to try and build traffic and engagement. According to a post by Facebook research scientist Khalid El-Arini and product specialist Joyce Tang, Facebook will now no longer reward publishers that don’t provide meaningful content or engagement with traffic.

“Over time, stories with ‘click-bait’ headlines can drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about,” wrote the Facebook staffers in the blog post.

With Facebook’s previous algorithm, the number of likes a page and a story had would dictate how high it would appear in a user’s timeline. This thus created an incentive for publishers to bait users into liking the page, or clicking on meaningless content.

Facebook now will prioritize links to stories higher in a user’s news feed than pictures with captions embedded in them. Many publishers moved to this style of posting, as traditionally it had yielded many more clicks for them.

“If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted,” El-Arini and Tang wrote.

Many media publications have built their business plan on capturing traffic via link bait tactics. Even legacy publishers have begun to adopt these tactics, writing SEO and social media friendly pieces to encourage sharing and traffic. Recently, The Onion launched a blog entitled Clickhole which spoofs the tactics employed by these publications.

Facebook said in a recent poll of users, 80 percent were annoyed with clickbait links from publishers.

No word yet on what the Buzzfeeds of the world plan to do.