RIP Clickbait – It’s Time for a Better Facebook Newsfeed


Facebook continues its “War on Fluff” with yet another development, this time targeting the often abused practice of Click-baiting. 

It all boils down to quality at this point in Facebook’s history. With thousands of Facebook pages being created as well as content publishers taking advantage of these “hacks”, our newsfeed has never felt so crowded, full of tempting links that often bring us to underwhelming content. Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed got this right and have built high traffic websites (not to mention profitable businesses) around it. Just like its predecessors, in the form of content farms, the Internet does find ways to correct itself and make our lives a better. This was inevitable.

We can’t really blame Facebook on this one, click-bait content has been perfected as a science so much so that almost anyone can do it. In fact, you can even generate your own here. Facebook, in its post, is pretty transparent on how it determines if an article linked out constitutes link-bait

One way is to look at how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook. 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. With this update we will start taking into account whether people tend to spend time away from Facebook after clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight back to News Feed when we rank stories with links in them.

Another factor we will use to try and show fewer of these types of stories is to look at the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends. If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this also suggests that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them.

So there you have it. I think most of our readers are generally safe from this practice. If you feel that you’re going to lose a lot of traffic here then it means that you’ve been relying too much on your headlines rather than the actual content. There are a lot ways to get that elusive click from your users, but it all boils down by being remarkable.

The bottom line is, content creators and page managers should put more sincerity in their content. While a lot of us need ways to generate content faster by following best practices and formulaic techniques, we should really focus on delivering value and teach our audiences a thing or two. You can still generate click-baiting-esque headlines, as long as there’s enough substance to back it up.

(Photo via Waag Society/Flickr)


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