social media

Facebook’s ban on click-baiting: will it work?

Facebook yesterday announced new plans to discourage corporate users and publishers from using click-bait as a method of gaining more website traffic. In a

Facebook yesterday announced new plans to discourage corporate users and publishers from using click-bait as a method of gaining more website traffic. In a survey of Facebook users, 80 percent of those surveyed said they prefer articles with headlines that help them to decide whether to read it or not. 

This has been exploited by a number of publishers who often title headlines with buzz-phrases like: “You will NEVER believe…” or “…see what happened next.”

The current algorithm that already only prioritises 300 out of 1,500 posts a day will now penalise publishers whose links are believed to be using click-bait headlines to spam users. The algorithm determines this by monitoring how long users spend away from the site after clicking on a link.

Writing on Facebook’s newsroom, Khalid El-Arini and Joyce Tang said: “If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted.

“With this update we will start taking into account whether people tend to spend time away from Facebook after clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight back to News Feed when we rank stories with links in them.”


Facebook will also be judging the worthiness of articles by looking at how often people interact with the content.

“If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click ‘Like’, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this also suggests that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them.”

Users will likely be pleased with the new updates as it will result in content, which is supposed to be tailored to their wants and needs, being more consistent and useful to them. That being said, the new algorithm doesn’t come without its flaws.

Independent musicians gain a lot of their following through social media. When sharing links through Facebook, users who follow these musicians will be likely to simply click on the link to play the music and then return to Facebook straight away as they can still listen to the music in the background.

Under Facebook’s new rules there is a risk that genuine, independent musicians will be penalised for posting perfectly acceptable links.

Furthermore, the comparison between clicks and feedback gives preference to already established brands and publishers as newer organisations tend to receive less likes and comments than the big names.

So what can bloggers do to keep their content Facebook-friendly?

That entirely depends on your blog content. The best tip is to keep headlines as relevant to the article as possible and avoid using suggestive language (at least in the title). Facebook have also found that users prefer to click on embedded links as opposed to links written in an image caption.

Using embedded links still allows an image to be displayed but also shares the meta-description with users. To keep your update looking ‘attractive’, make sure the dimensions of the image you use as the header of your blogpost are large enough for Facebook to display it over the description (as opposed to a small thumbnail at the side).

The new Facebook update will prioritise links shown in the embedded format as opposed to links attached to image updates. That being said, they will also be testing various publishers to see if certain topics (such as food and drink or beauty and fashion) work better with an image update as opposed to an embedded link.

Until this has been worked on, however, try to make sure your formatting is correct and that you avoid using misleading and/or suggestive titles.

Do you think Facebook’s new update will be effective? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Michael Mandiberg / Flickr