Facebook clamps down on News Feed spam

14/04/2014

Facebook is taking new additional steps to improve the quality of what people see in the news feed, clamping down on posts that use underhand ‘link-baiting’ techniques to entice users to click ‘like’.

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In a blog post Facebook announced it has tweaked its algorithm to limit the prominence of posts that explicitly ask users to like, comment or share the post to get additional distribution beyond what a post would normally get.

While the sharing activity pushes these posts higher up in the news feed, Facebook says surveys show people, on average, report that meme-type stories are 15% less relevant than updates with a similar number of likes, comments and shares.

“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,” stated Facebook in a blog post today. It also assured that the change won’t affect brand pages that are “genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans.”

The company said it will also try to cut down on instances where photos or videos are repeatedly uploaded to Facebook. “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,” the Facebook post stated.

The algorithm update also takes aim at posts that Facebook says use inaccurate language or formatting to trick users into linking to sites that contain only ads or a combination of frequently circulated content and ads.

“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,” the company said.

There are fears that users may see links they share demoted in the News Feed if another friend shared it first. This could affect viral content or popular news stories, neither of which are spam.

However, Facebook says many of the stories that fall into these categories are published by Pages that deliberately try to game the News Feed.

Most publishers are not posting spam, and so they shouldn’t expect to be negatively impacted by these changes.

Read the blog post here

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