Facebook has stepped up its war against so-called clickbait, attention grabbing headlines embedded in its news feed which lead to pointless stories, by adjusting its aggregator to reduce the number of articles likely to mislead or annoy members.
This follows an exhaustive study of the problem by the social media giant which analysed ‘tens of thousands’ of headlines to identify the key characteristics of clickbait to actionable factors.
As a result the social media platform has come up with two key flavours of clickbait most likely to rile those who fall for it; ‘curiosity gap’ headlines in which readers are lured by an open headline, such as ‘You'll never believe who tripped and fell on the red carpet’ and those which are simply misleading such as ‘Apples are actually bad for you’ when in fact they are nothing of the sort.
Adam Mosseri, vice president of product management for the News Feed, said: “If you're a publisher, or you're a content farm, and you post 50 things a day and 48 of them are clickbait, you'll see a significant drop in referral traffic and reach.”
Clearly categorising clickbait as something distinct from a merely fruity headline remains as much an art as a science however and as such the algorithm will factor in volume to its calculations, with repeat offenders disproportionately punished.