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Facebook is trying yet again to cut clickbait headlines from your News Feed

But this update may not hurt publishers as much as before.


Facebook is tweaking its News Feed algorithm to fight a familiar foe: Clickbait, or articles that Facebook says “withhold information intentionally” or “mislead people, forcing them to click to find out the answer.”

If this sounds familiar, it should. This is the third time Facebook has tweaked its algorithm since late 2014 with the sole purpose of fighting clickbait stories.

What’s different this time around? Facebook says it’s getting more specific about how to minimize the reach of a clickbait post without necessarily hurting a publisher’s other content.

In an update from August, Facebook started punishing publisher Pages that routinely used clickbait headlines. Now it says it can detect clickbait on an individual story level, meaning it will suppress a specific article from gaining traction in News Feed, but won’t necessarily punish the publisher’s other posts.

It’s also going to start categorizing clickbait headlines into two categories: Those that “withhold information” and those that “exaggerate information.” Neither offense is considered worse than the other, but headlines that fall into both categories will have an even tougher time gaining traction in News Feed.

Facebook’s official stance here is that clickbait headlines run counter to its efforts to create an “informed community,” which was a pillar of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s big manifesto back in February.

But a simpler way to think of this is that Facebook is admitting that clickbait stories do more harm than good among users, even though some publishers obviously benefit from them. It’s the same reason Facebook is penalizing publishers that drive people to sites full of ads, or publishers that post false news.

Facebook is still reeling from the aftereffects of last fall’s presidential election, when false news reports ran rampant in News Feed thanks in part to coordinated efforts meant to hurt specific candidates. Cracking down on false news, but also extreme headlines that encourage partisan sharing without any substance to back them up, has been a major company focus ever since.

This article originally appeared on

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