Facebook Cracking Down on ‘Engagement Bait’ Posts

Posts and Pages that use spam tactics to boost their visibility in Facebook's News Feed will soon be demoted in favor of more "meaningful" content, the company said today.

"Engagement bait" content asks Facebook users to like, share, or comment on posts in an effort to earn higher visibility on the site. After studying hundreds of thousands of such posts, Facebook said it has developed a machine learning model that can identify such content and display it less frequently in users' News Feeds.

This latest change comes on the heels of another new feature, Snooze, announced last week that will let Facebook users temporarily unfollow people, Pages or groups without those others being notified. Both Snooze and the new engagement bait demotion model are set to begin rolling out this week, Facebook said.

The social media giant has been facing steady pressure to fine-tune the content that users see, especially in the wake of revelations about Russia-sponsored misinformation campaigns on the site ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Expect 'Significant Drops in Reach'

In addition to demoting like- and share-hungry spam posts, Facebook over the next few weeks will also impose similar downgrades on Pages that "systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach in News Feed," operations integrity specialist Henry Silverman and engineer Lin Huang wrote in a blog post today.

Such demotions won't affect legitimate user posts that ask others for "help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips," Silverman and Huang added.

Facebook regularly adjusts how its News Feed algorithm determines the information that users see, and has made other changes this year to put a lower priority on clickbait headlines and posts that link to Web sites with malicious ads or sensational...

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