Facebook is once again fussing with the algorithm behind its News Feed, in hopes that this latest tweak will surface more relevant stories. Over the coming weeks, the company said it will implement a change that should further reduce the number of clickbait headlines you see from Pages. This means you’ll see fewer articles such as: “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS…I Was SHOCKED!”
In a blog post, data scientist Alex Peysakhovich and user experience researcher Kristin Hendrix wrote that a core value of the News Feed has been to provide “authentic communication” to users. As part of efforts to surface more genuine stories, Facebook’s News Feed now scans headlines for specific phrases that can help it identify and eliminate clickbait. The company has trained the Feed’s algorithm to recognize whether a headline is missing pertinent information that would be needed to understand what the article is about. Additionally, it’ll root out exaggerated or misleading headlines.
Not only that, News Feed also examines the web domains and Pages the posts come from, so it’s not just the Pages that will be impacted, the domain sending clickbait will face consequences, a well.
While clickbait posts will still appear in your News Feed, they’ll be ranked much lower than more relevant news posts and those from your friends and family. If a Page ceases to post clickbait headlines, News Feed will begin to rank its articles higher.
This is the latest in a series of tweaks Facebook has made to one of the highest-trafficked parts of the social network. And while each update promises to surface friends and family posts above all others and to highlight live videos, factor in time spent on Instant Articles, or even promote posts you’re likely to engage with, don’t think that the work is complete. Tweaking the News Feed algorithm is a never-ending job.
But what makes this update particularly interesting is that it will likely encourage people promoting articles to spend more time on quality writing, rather than focusing on page views and share numbers. Facebook said that while most Pages won’t see any significant changes to the number of their stories appearing in the News Feed, “websites and Pages who rely on clickbait-style headlines should expect their distribution to decrease.”