May 17, 2017

Yet another nail was hammered into the coffin of clickbait on Wednesday when Facebook announced it was tweaking its News Feed (again) to reduce the reach of made-you-look stories.

The change, which comes on the heels of a similar tweak made by Facebook last year, is aimed at penalizing inauthentic stories that deliberately omit important information.

The latest change penalizes two signals — exaggeration and omission — to serve up stories that users find more satisfying, Facebook engineers Arun Babu, Annie Liu and Jordan Zhang explained in a blog post:

Headlines that withhold information intentionally leave out crucial details or mislead people, forcing them to click to find out the answer. For example, “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS…” Headlines that exaggerate the details of a story with sensational language tend to make the story seem like a bigger deal than it really is. For example, “WOW! Ginger tea is the secret to everlasting youth. You’ve GOT to see this!”

Most pages (read: Most publishers) won’t see their reach penalized as a result of the change, but those who frequently publish clickbait-y stories will, according to the post. The clickbait-smothering tweak is being expanded to other languages, but publishers who cease posting clickbait can expect their post distribution to return to normal.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
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