Will Facebook’s latest algorithm change mean an end to ‘clickbait’ headlines?

Facebook HQ photo by Marco Paköeningrat (used under the Creative Commons licence)

Facebook’s seemingly never ending algorithm tinkering has been adjusted yet again, this time targeting “clickbait” in users’ feeds.

The latest changes are due to arrive within the next couple of weeks, with Facebook identifying these two key factors to define “clickbait”:

(1) If the headline withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is.
(2) If the headline exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader

The social media goliath has said that links from pages which routinely post these types of headlines will find themselves demoted in users’ News Feeds.

This isn’t the first time Facebook have tried to nullify clickbait. Previously they tried to identify such content by the amount of time people spent on a link destination. The thinking followed the logic that if a user returned to Facebook quickly after clicking on a link, then the quality of the post was likely to be lower than those on which the reader stayed for longer.

However, this latest change is designed to target clickbait headlines more accurately, essentially operating like an email spam filter.

We will have to wait and see what effect this has on traffic from Facebook, but the network says that if a page finds themselves negatively impacted by the change, “if they stop posting clickbait headlines, their posts will stop being impacted by this change.”