updated 04:59 pm EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
User behavior away from site, sharing now determine if feed articles are click-bait
In a blog post from Facebook today, the social media company said that it's trying to improve the News Feed by reducing "click-baiting headlines." The company stated that it wants to help users find posts and links that are interesting, while removing stories that are generally considered spam by people that don't want them to turn up in their feeds.
Facebook states that the decision to remove click-bait laden headlines that encourage readers to click based on shoestring details comes from on survey information. When the company asked users what type of content they wanted to see in their feeds, 80 percent of the time people said they wanted headlines that informed them.
The company is looking at articles in two ways to help them decide if they qualify as click-bait. Methods aren't tied to employee decisions, but rather information collected based on user behavior. For instance, if a clicked article sends a user to a site only to have them return immediately, that site or story could be penalized. In the new update to the News Feed, Facebook will start tracking time away from the site and ranking articles based on these sorts of scenarios, to attempt to find content users actually desire.
The other method involves the company looking at the number of people clicking on articles compared to those sharing and talking about them. If only a few people are liking or commenting on the story after reading it, Facebook could take that as a sign that the story isn't something readers want. To the company, it suggest that users aren't finding content they consider valuable.
Another improvement was announced that changes the way that links are handed in shared posts. Instead of burying the link inside of a photo captions, the social media company says that people prefer to click on standard links instead. Since the link shows additional information that cannot be gleaned from the photo, it makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click over to the story. Links in the link-format will now be prioritized over those in captions and status updates.
Facebook says that some publishers that are "frequently posting links with click-bait headlines" will see a decrease in distribution in the coming months.