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Facebook Cracking Down On Clickbait

You'll Never Believe What This Social Media Site Has Done Now!

Among game invites, baby pictures, and updates from people who are happier and more successful than you, clickbait articles are one of the more irritating aspects of social media. Links which promise some Eden of fascinating content and adorable kitten pictures only to deliver a few dozen pop-ups and some barely disguised malware are an all too common sight across the web, and they make the sharing and discovery of genuinely interesting things that much more difficult.

The news that Facebook is implementing new features to crack down on clickbait, therefore, will no doubt be welcomed by its users if not by those who try to use people’s secret desire to see plane crashes and people being tasered to sell ad space.

Facebook won’t rely on human judgement to weed out these misleading links. Rather they have designed an algorithm which tracks how long a user stays on a page before returning to Facebook. If, therefore, you click a link and return to Facebook almost immediately, that link will probably be marked as clickbait and penalised accordingly in your News Feed. If you click through to another site and spend a good amount of time there then Facebook will assume that it’s worthwhile content (or that you wandered off or fell asleep) so it’ll hold its place on your page.

The site will also compare the number of clicks which a link gets with the amount of user engagement – likes and comments. Links with a lot of clicks but little engagement will also be judged to be probably not worth your time and so will be bumped down the rankings.

There is a little controversy here, as there always is with Facebook. The suggestion is that in order to judge how much time you’re spending on articles which are linked to from your page Facebook is going to have to track your movements not only on their own site but across the web, which some people are bound to be unhappy with. However the site already tracks your browsing habits in order to deliver more targeted advertising, and so using the same technology to monitor your bounce rate is, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively small step towards a further total invasion of your privacy.

The change will cause quite a few ripples in the world of digital media, especially with those sites like UpWorthy and the Huffington Post which receive a large number of viewers via links on Facebook. Facebook is far and away the biggest driver of traffic out of all social networks, with 23% of traffic coming from the site compared with 5.7% from Pinterest and 1% from Twitter. There’s no little amount at stake here, therefore, and so people will be watching the social media site’s actions closely.

Whether this move will lead to a notable reduction in clickbait articles remains to be seen. Don’t expect your News Feed to start filling up with New Yorker pieces and hard-hitting journalism any time soon, but hopefully it will stem the tide a little – at least until people start figuring out ways to get around these restrictions.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Facebook Cracking Down On Clickbait Reviewed by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 Rating: 5
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