Facebook got overrun by clickbait. What happened next will AMAZE you

Ever been disappointed by a headline like this one? Facebook agrees with you – and now it’s doing something about it. The site, which now drives more traffic to news sites than even Google, has tweaked the algorithm that it uses to determine what you see in your newsfeed, in an effort to eliminate “clickbait” headlines.

Facebook got overrun by clickbait. What happened next will AMAZE you

According to the company, the aim is to get rid of headlines that “withhold information required to understand what the content of the article is”, typically by using phrases like “you won’t believe who” or “what happens next is” to create a “curiosity gap”. These kinds of headlines encourage you to click simply to find out what happened – and that’s exactly what Facebook wants to eliminate.

Facebook also wants to get rid of headlines that exaggerate the issue. The example Facebook uses is “Apples Are Actually Bad For You?!” – they are, but only if you eat far too many of them every day.

Facebook’s decision is likely to be a big blow to an entire genre of websites that have grown used to attracting traffic to low-quality stories by using clickbait headlines. And it’s likely to exacerbate the growing discomfort among publishers, who have grown used to relying on traffic from Facebook in order to serve enough ads to remain profitable.

From Facebook’s perspective, though, the financial health of news publishers is likely less important than the happiness of its users, who have become increasingly vocal in their frustration about headlines that exaggerate, deceive or don’t tell the whole story. However, how long it will be before sites work out a way to game Facebook’s algorithms to get through the clickbait filter is anyone’s guess.

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