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Facebook is cracking down on ‘clickbait’ in your news feed

Social Networking Sites May Be Monitored By Security ServicesSocial Networking Sites May Be Monitored By Security Services
I'm not distracting you, am I?Photograph by Dan Kitwood—Getty Images

If you enjoy logging on to your Facebook profile and seeing listicle after listicle of various celebrity fashion trends, you may be upset about Facebook’s latest change to its news feed.

If you’re part of the other 99% of the population, though, you’ll be thrilled.

The popular social network announced today that it was looking to cut down on “stories that people frequently tell us are spammy and that they don’t want to see.”

In the release — credited to research scientist Khalid El-Arini and product specialist Joyce Tang — Facebook defines clickbait as “when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see.”

Translation: If a headline starts off with “You’ll never believe what …,” there’s a decent chance it’s clickbait.

El-Arini and Tang note that these types of stories tend to promise a lot, and thus get a lot of clicks despite not being informative or useful. Because they get so many clicks, they can overwhelm a user’s news feed at the expense of friends’ updates and more relevant content.

Facebook (FB) doesn’t say exactly how they will keep clickbait out of newsfeeds, but the release notes that it can tell if a story is indeed clickbait my measuring how long users spend on the page when outside of Facebook, or by looking for stories that have lot of clicks, but not a lot of likes.