You won't believe who’s completely changing their algorithm all over again. Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) announced Monday it will alter its News Feed algorithm in an attempt to reduce the amount of “spammy" click-bait headlines seen by its users.
The social network says 80 percent of its users would prefer headlines that give them the information they need to determine whether a story is worth reading. But, like carnival barkers for the digital age, a number of online publishing companies boast growing advertising profits driven largely by Facebook posts designed to get a cheap click. Click-bait often features enigmatic headlines or promises readers information about a celebrity that they “just won’t believe.”
Facebook says it will calculate the amount of time users spend on a website, after they click away and before returning to their news feeds to determine which ones will be demoted. It also says that it will compare the number of comments, likes and shares, to how many users actually click the link to help root out "spammy" links.
Writer Jake Beckman runs “Saved You A Click,” a service that exists solely to save users from click-bait and to"provide context.” Beckman said changes to Facebook's News Feed will help users frustrated by click-bait, but probably would not solve the problem at its core.
211,044 (estimated) RT @BostonGlobe: Yes, we counted how many dents there are in Fenway Park's wall. The answer may surprise you.
â€” Saved You A Click (@SavedYouAClick) August 24, 2014
Upworthy.com, one of Facebook’s worst offenders, recently reported lower traffic due to a number of earlier News Feed changes, but higher earnings overall. The site uses “unforgettable” headlines that encourage a click to read stories or watch videos that might “break your heart” or “change the way you look at your whole existence.”
— Saved You A Click (@SavedYouAClick) August 23, 2014
Beckman says there are two major problems with click-bait that Facebook will not be able to deal with in a software algorithm.
“The first question is whether publishers are withholding information from their readers that is revealed when they click on the link,” Beckman said. The second is when sites “promise one thing on social, and deliver another when [users] go to the site.”
Rather than a tweak to Facebook’s algorithm, he believes there's only one thing that will change an online culture of click-bait. "It's going to take a shift in how publishers approach how they distribute content on social media.”
No. RT @AP: Even Mr. T can get a call for jury duty. But was he selected as a juror?:
— Saved You A Click (@SavedYouAClick) August 16, 2014