Facebook giving the hook to 'clickbait' headlines

August 4, 2016
Facebook says it is cracking down even harder on clickbait by using a system that targets headlines that withhold information needed to understand what the article contains or which exaggerate to mislead readers

Facebook on Thursday began updating its News Feed formula to cut down on "clickbait" headlines that promise much more than they deliver.

The tweak takes aim at headlines that intentionally leave our crucial information or mislead people, prompting them to click on links to stories to find out more, according to a blog post by Facebook researchers Kristin Hendrix and Alex Peysakhovich.

Headline examples given included "When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw This...I Was Shocked!" and "He Put Garlic In His Shoes Before Going To Bed And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe."

"We've heard from people that they specifically want to see fewer stories with clickbait headlines or link titles," Hendrix and Peysakhovich said.

"With this update, people will see fewer clickbait stories and more of the stories they want to see higher up in their feeds."

Facebook had previously taken aim at clickbait with a News Feed update that reduced distribution of posts with links that people clicked on only to quickly return to the social network.

California-based Facebook, which has some 1.7 billion users, said that it is cracking down even harder on clickbait by using a system that targets headlines that withhold information needed to understand what the article contains or which exaggerate to mislead readers.

For example, the headline "You'll Never Believe Who Tripped and Fell on the Red Carpet" doesn't clue readers into people involved or even the exact event.

"A team at Facebook reviewed thousands of headlines using these criteria, validating each other's work to identify a large set of clickbait headlines," the researchers said.

Any change in Facebook's algorithm which ranks and places items in a user's feed is closely watched by publishers because of the vast amount of potential traffic from the largest social media platform.

Clickbait headlines are typically tailored to spark people's curiosity to lead them to stories that don't live up to reader expectations but generate advertising revenue.

Explore further: Facebook's latest news feed tweak: This time, it's personal

Related Stories

Facebook aims to curb news feed 'hoaxes'

January 20, 2015

Facebook said Tuesday it would step up efforts to limit circulation of bogus "news stories" in user feeds, saying it is an annoyance for members of the huge social network.

Recommended for you

Forget oil, Russia goes crazy for cryptocurrency

August 16, 2017

Standing in a warehouse in a Moscow suburb, Dmitry Marinichev tries to speak over the deafening hum of hundreds of computers stacked on shelves hard at work mining for crypto money.

Researchers clarify mystery about proposed battery material

August 15, 2017

Battery researchers agree that one of the most promising possibilities for future battery technology is the lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) battery, which could provide three times as much power for a given weight as today's ...

Signs of distracted driving—pounding heart, sweaty nose

August 15, 2017

Distracted driving—texting or absent-mindedness—claims thousands of lives a year. Researchers from the University of Houston and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute have produced an extensive dataset examining how ...

De-jargonizing program helps decode science speak

August 11, 2017

Science is fascinating to many, but sentences that are full of expert-level terms and description can scare away even the most passionate readers. Can scientists learn to talk about their research without using too many technical ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.