DC Trawler

You’ll Never Guess How Facebook Is Reducing THIS Annoying Practice

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Namely: Clickbait! (See what I did there?)

The Facebook News Feed:

People tell us they don’t like stories that are misleading, sensational or spammy. That includes clickbait headlines that are designed to get attention and lure visitors into clicking on a link…

Headlines that withhold information intentionally leave out crucial details or mislead people, forcing them to click to find out the answer. For example, “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS…” Headlines that exaggerate the details of a story with sensational language tend to make the story seem like a bigger deal than it really is…

We categorized hundreds of thousands of headlines as clickbait or not clickbait by considering if the headline exaggerates the details of a story, and separately if the headline withholds information.

I guess it’s a good idea to use an algorithm to filter out that stuff. Like most of what Facebook does, it seems creepy and Orwellian to me. But if that’s what Facebook users want, OK. I try to avoid clickbait unless I’m mocking it (see above), but it’s everywhere.

One of my favorite Twitter accounts, @FilmClickbait, does a great job of busting sites that rely on deliberately obscurantist headlines:

I always feel cheated when I fall for clickbait, and it has the opposite of the intended effect. It makes me not want to visit the site again, and I remember it the next time I see a link to that site.

Er… except when it’s a joke about the practice of clickbait. Where are you going? Please come back!

Facebook will probably screw this up, though, because it’s Facebook.