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Most people today understand the concept of clickbait and tend to avoid Facebook posts featuring headlines that start with “you won’t believe…,” but that’s not the only type of clickbait out there. Named “engagement bait” by the social network, these are the spam posts that beg users for reacts, shares, comments, and tags. They’re incredibly annoying, and Facebook is finally clamping down on the practice.
You’ve probably seen this kind of eye-rolling content populating your news feed in the past. “Like this post if you’re a Sagittarius,” “share with 20 friends to win a car,” “Tag someone who loves bacon,” and “comment to pay your respects to this sad turtle,” are some examples of the posts Facebook is aiming to address.
As so many people tend to engage with these types of posts, Facebook’s algorithms identify them as popular and expand their reach to more users. To combat this problem, the company will start penalizing Pages that resort to this behavior.
Facebook said it had fed its machine learning model hundreds of thousands of the posts so it can automatically detect different types of engagement bait. Identified posts will now be buried deep in the news feed. Additionally, alterations to the site’s algorithms over the coming weeks will see “stricter demotions” for Pages that systematically and constantly use this technique. That means reduced reach for all posts from repeat offenders. Anyone who is punished in this way could have their original reach returned if they stop posting engagement bait.
Facebook stresses that legitimate posts asking for help, advice, recommendations, donations for a good cause, etc. won’t be impacted by the update.
Earlier this year, Facebook said an algorithm update would remove clickbait and spam from users’ news feeds while reducing the visibility of engagement bait posts.