OMG, you would not BELIEVE what Facebook thinks about click-baiting

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Spam

Facebook is cracking down on those click-baiting stories - you know, the ones that say:

"YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE WHAT THIS GIRL DID NEXT"

or

"Watch what happens when this guy puts a BATTERY in a MICROWAVE."

Facebook’s had enough, it says.

Click-baiting is when someone posts a link with a headline that sounds AMAZINGLY INTRIGUING, but doesn’t actually tell the person reading the post much about what the article is about.

Facebook click-bait. Image courtesy of Facebook.

Because these posts sound so interesting, they get lots of clicks, Facebook ranks them higher and they get displayed in more people’s news feeds.

Facebook wants to put a stop to that.

Click-bating is also a method used by scammers, such as the survey scam which started with the post "OMG - I just hate RIHANNA after watching this video" or the variety of scams which start with the post "Girl killed herself, after her dad posted This to her Wall".

So how will Facebook decide what is click-baiting and what isn’t?

Click here. Image courtesy of ShutterstockIt's going to start measuring how long people spend on a site after clicking on a link posted on Facebook. If someone clicks on something and spends a long time looking at it, then the chances are that the post was useful. If they click back to Facebook straight away, it probably wasn’t.

Facebook is also going to start comparing the amount of people clicking on the post to the number of people discussing and sharing the same post with their friends.

If lots of people click on the story, but then don’t Like, Share or Comment on it when they return to Facebook, it's likely that the post wasn’t interesting.

Facebook is also starting to discourage people from posting photos with a link in the caption.

We’ve found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions. The link format shows some additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through.

From now on, the best way to share a link will be to paste the link straight in to your post update, rather than linking straight from a photo.

So there you go, fewer spammy stories but also fewer hilarious headlines. Don't worry, there's a website for that - generate your own headlines here.

If you'd like to keep up to date on all our Facebook-related news, please Like the Naked Security page on Facebook.

Image of Facebook click-bait courtesy of Facebook.

Image of click here courtesy of Shutterstock.

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5 Responses to OMG, you would not BELIEVE what Facebook thinks about click-baiting

  1. Great headline! :-P

  2. Julia · 59 days ago

    "From now on, the best way to share a link will be to paste the link straight in to your post update, rather than linking straight from a photo."

    But one of the reasons people post photos and put a link in the caption, is because Facebook keeps telling us that photos get better engagement than any other type of post.

    So, what do those of us running pages do? Put links on photos because photos get better engagement, or put links in directly to get the link preview, because people dislike links on photos.

    *confused*

  3. CWZ · 59 days ago

    We have been monitoring these "click-fraud" schemes and scams on social media networks for a while now. We found a "scheme" generator which is used by these "Facebook scammers".

    The crackdown which is implemented by Facebook, will not be effective as the sites will simply put a "wait x seconds" before you can watch the video plugin.

  4. Can the Facebook server actually determine when a user goes back to Facebook? These links usually open a new window, so to go back to Facebook I only have to switch windows, which is a local action that should not communicate anything to the server. It would seem to be that the FB server only knows I have gone back when I click (or post or share) on something else. So if I click on a link, and then continue reading FB (and maybe click on something else) while I am waiting for the linked page to load, won't FB think that this (possibly legitimate) link was click bait?

  5. Anonymous · 59 days ago

    And of course that does not appear to control the 'share to read more,,,' links!

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About the author

Anna Brading is Naked Security's editor. She has worked in tech for more than ten years and as a writer with Sophos for over five. She's interested in social media, privacy and keeping people safe online.