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Facebook cracks down on "click-baiting"

Facebook has announced an update to its News Feed feature to diminish what the site calls "click-baiting."

In a "News Feed FYI" blog post Monday, Facebook defined "click-baiting" as "when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see." These are the kinds of stories "people frequently tell us are spammy and that they don't want to see."

But like it or not, click-bait often succeeds at its primary goal of getting a lot of people to click on it, and that means that under Facebook's previous algorithm, such posts appeared high up in many News Feeds.

Facebook provided its own example of a click-baiting post:


Facebook said a survey found that 80 percent of the time, users preferred headlines with more information "that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through."

And so now Facebook says it's changing its algorithm to give factors beyond the number of clicks more weight in determining how news items are ranked, including measurements that indicate whether a news item is likely to interest users. When users click and take a while to return, Facebook ranks that new item higher because they believe people valued the information enough to actually read it.

"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," the blog post said. A news item also will increase in status based on whether friends discuss or like the post.

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