We've all clicked on it at some point or another: "You'll Never Guess What She Found Under Her Bed...I Was SHOCKED," or even better, "This Man Covered Himself in Mayonnaise and You Won't Believe What Happened Next!" You see the headline, you know it's not worth it, but the tiny internet-loving troll within you can't help but ask, frantically, "What? What happened next?"
But how do we truly avoid being lured into clickbait?
Developers at Facebook are trying to find an answer. Facebook announced today its plans to update the News Feed algorithm again, this time in an effort identify and reduce clickbait or "spammy" headlines. The company launched its initial efforts in 2014, by lowering the distribution of posts that rely on clickbait headlines to navigate you away from your News Feed.
While this update helped, clickbait prevails and users aren't too happy about Facebook Pages that use misleading headlines to garner more clicks - especially when many rely on their news feed to connect them with legitimate headlines. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, Facebook is responsible for connecting the vast majority, about 84 percent, of mobile readers to news sites compared to any other social media site.
To differentiate what counts as clickbait and what doesn't, Facebook's team analyzed thousands of headlines using specific criteria. Any headline that withheld information "required to understand what the content of the article is" or that created "misleading expectations for the reader" was counted as clickbait.
Basically, the algorithm is built to filter out headlines that vaguely speculate or use key phrases to indicate something "shocking" or "unbelievable," similar to how many email spam filters operate.
This update was made in an effort to follow Facebook's newly restated News Feed Values, which state that users want a feed that informs, puts family and friends first and relies on "authentic communication." So while it might be your guilty pleasure to click on those spam-filled "shocker" links, maybe this change is for the better.