Apr 10 2014, 4:34pm CDT | by Forbes
The No. 1 complaint I hear from people on Facebook is that they hate their close friends’ posts getting buried in their news feed by stuff they don’t care about–the equivalent of spam in their email boxes.
Today, Facebook took steps to fix that situation by targeting several kinds of posts users find spammy. But first, it’s important to understand one thing: You won’t see any change in the number or type of ads in your news feed. The crackdown on spammy posts doesn’t actually include any kind of advertising.
“Like-baiting” is when a post explicitly asks News Feed readers to like, comment or share the post in order to get additional distribution beyond what the post would normally receive.
People often respond to posts asking them to take an action, and this means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed. However, when we survey people and ask them to rate the quality of these stories, they report that like-baiting stories are, on average, 15% less relevant than other stories with a comparable number of likes, comments and shares. Over time, these stories lead to a less enjoyable experience of Facebook since they drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about.
The improvement we are making today better detects these stories and helps ensure that they are not shown more prominently in News Feed than more relevant stories from friends and other Pages. This update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.
Frequently Circulated Content
People and Pages on Facebook frequently reshare great content, but people tell us there are occasionally instances where photos or videos are uploaded to Facebook over and over again. We’ve found that people tend to find these instances of repeated content less relevant, and are more likely to complain about the Pages that frequently post them. We are improving News Feed to de-emphasize these Pages, and our early testing shows that this change causes people to hide 10% fewer stories from Pages overall.
Some stories in News Feed use inaccurate language or formatting to try and trick people into clicking through to a website that contains only ads or a combination of frequently circulated content and ads. For instance, often these stories claim to link to a photo album but instead take the viewer to a website with just ads.
By measuring how frequently people on Facebook who visit a link choose to like the original post or share that post with their friends, we’ve been able to better detect spammy links. The update we are making today improves News Feed to reduce cases of these spammy links, and in our early testing we’ve seen a 5% increase in people on Facebook clicking on links that take them off of Facebook – this is a big increase in the context of News Feed and is a good sign that people are finding the remaining content in their News Feed more relevant and trustworthy.
None of this means you won’t see any posts like this. After all, you probably saw that cute bunny up there in that example because your friends reposted it. Facebook’s moves won’t entirely erase lapses in your friends’ taste.
Lest legitimate Facebook publishers and Page owners worry that their legitimate posts will get spiked as well–because that never happens!–Facebook says the vast majority might even see a “very small” increase in news feed distribution.
Bold prediction: A bunch of Page owners will squawk anyway when their traffic drops. But they can’t say they weren’t warned.
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