With Facebook’s battle against clickbait in full swing, almost a week doesn’t pass without a new News Feed update that targets fake news and clickbait. With a recent update, the platform can recognise and fight clickbait in 9 more languages.
Facebook has been suppressing bad content – clickbait, fake news, and more – for some time. In 2014, it found out that users preferred to see more explanatory headlines, so it made a News Feed update to try to get rid of vague headlines by factoring in the time that users spent reading content. This didn’t do much, as we’ve seen a lot of clickbait-y content since then. In 2016, another News Feed change targeted user behaviours related to content, and continued to factor in the time spent on each link.
Now, in combination with its fight against “fake news” Facebook will fight clickbait in 9 more languages, in addition to English – being able to recognise spammy links in German, Arabic, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese. Facebook chose these languages because they are “commonly spoken ones that many people use in the world,” and because it wanted “to pick languages that would help many people, and where clickbait was a particular problem.”
To do so, Facebook had actual human beings analyse posts in all 10 languages, to identify the most-used words and phrases in clickbait headlines. This way, it taught two AI classifiers – exaggerated headlines and headlines that withhold information – to scan links on their own. But what about humour and satire? Well, as Facebook explains, that “people prefer headlines that are written in a more straightforward fashion”.
This may mean that well-meaning satire or humorous publishers may have to change their approach. Facebook explained that, following the update
[quote]Publishers that rely on clickbait headlines should expect their distribution to decrease. Pages should avoid headlines that withhold information required to understand the content of the article and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations.[/quote]
Finally, the update also goes a bit further than previous ones, with the demotion of individual posts – not just domains or individual Facebook Pages. And the good news is, that if a Page does refrain from posting clickbait and sensational headlines, its posts will not be impacted anymore.