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Facebook Not Taking the (Click)Bait

Have you ever scrolled through social media and saw an irresistible headline like: “Young couple buys a house. You’ll never believe what they find in the attic!” You then click on the link and the article is different or woefully disappointing.

That type of headline, where it withholds or gives misleading information, is called clickbait and Facebook wants to minimize it. The social media giant is taking significant steps by identifying thousands of phrases that may or may not be common clickbait headlines. It then uses a specially designed algorithm, similar to spam detection, that then places these stories less frequently or lower in readers’ newsfeeds. It can also determine possible clickbait by looking at how much time people spend reading an article, how quickly they unlike an article along with website traffic patterns.

This move by Facebook comes on the heels of a report earlier this year that it suppresses conservative-leaning news from its trending topics. Facebook denied the news bias allegations.

The clickbait initiative will impact content publishers eagerly trying to reach Facebook’s 1.7 billion users. They may have to adjust their content or look at using other social media platforms. It remains to be seen if native content, which is paid for by advertisers, would be similarly affected.

Amar Bhatkhandé is an Audit Partner and a leader in the Life Sciences and Technology Services Group for the firm's West Coast practice, with over 25 years of experience in public accounting and 2 years in private.

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