Just over two years ago, Facebook announced it was going to take steps to remove so-called clickbait headlines, which are defined as headlines that try to cultivate interest in a story by omitting key pieces of information, or by misrepresenting what the actual content is.
Now, Facebook has just created a new algorithm to increase its efforts at tackling clickbait, downgrading the visibility of posts that users only spend a short time viewing after clicking on them.
Facebook said the new algorithm catalogs “tens of thousands” of headlines, which are then analyzed by a team of humans to decide if the headlines were misleading or withholding pertinent information. Facebook’s team also double-checked their work, and used the knowledge they gained to build “a system that looks at the set of clickbait headlines to determine what phrases are commonly used in clickbait headlines that are not used in other headlines,” in a similar fashion to how many email spam filters work, the company said.
Facebook said that its new system would continue to actively learn which sites produce clickbait headlines.
Headlines that qualify as clickbait appear lower in a person’s newsfeed. As websites stop using clickbait headlines, Facebook's learning system will be less likely to relegate their articles to the bottom of the newsfeed.
The social media site said that reducing clickbait headlines would facilitate "authentic" communication between its users. Facebook added that most regular users would not see a change, but "websites and Pages who rely on clickbait-style headlines should expect their distribution to decrease."
"Pages should avoid headlines that withhold information required to understand what the content of the article is and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations," the company wrote today.