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Headline Clickbait No More: Facebook Fights Back

Pesky old clickbait. We’ve all seen examples of it on our newsfeeds. It often comes in the form of deceiving headlines that “bait” the user to click on the link posted. Examples of such headlines are “You won’t believe what happens next…” or “Make $500 extra dollars a month with these simple tricks…”. Another similar tactic is tricking users into engaging in content with a call to action other than just clicking on the link. You’ll see examples of this with headlines like “Like this post if you are an 80s baby!” or “Comment below with your favorite movie”.

In both cases, users are misled to engage in content that they perhaps otherwise wouldn’t, creating unauthentic and exaggerated levels of engagement on the post. This generates a domino effect – because of the way the Facebook newsfeed algorithm is configured – in which these posts appear on more users’ newsfeeds because they are seen by the algorithm as having more meaningful, popular content.

Facebook has finally decided to take action against these clickbait tactics. Perhaps the most important step Facebook has made in this battle is making changes to its algorithm that determines what you see (and don’t see) on your timeline. This new algorithm makes efforts to detect clickbait in a post and then show fewer people that post regardless of engagement levels. Where clickbait behavior used to benefit Pages, it will now create a smaller audience for posts that contain clickbait headlines or calls to action.

In fact, Facebook has decided to implement a stricter system of demoting Pages that use clickbait methods repeatedly. This means if a Page is using clickbait in its posts often, even its posts that don’t contain clickbait will start to show up on fewer users’ timelines.

According to Facebook, the changes are in response to their commitment to harbor authentic engagement on their platform. If your business has a Page on Facebook, make sure you are posting links with thoughtful and relevant headlines, or else you may find your posts having a drastically smaller reach than they did before.