Facebook’s latest News Feed tweak penalizes Pages that solicit likes, shares
Facebook continues to crack down on the people and particularly Pages that try to game its News Feed algorithm.
Facebook will penalize posts that ask people to like, share, comment on or otherwise engage with the post in order to boost its engagement metrics and trigger Facebook’s algorithm to rank it higher in people’s News Feeds, the company announced on Monday. Facebook refers to these types of posts as “engagement bait.”
Facebook originally attempted to quash these types of posts earlier this year by identifying the Pages that post engagement bait and rewarding the Pages that weren’t in that cohort. But it appears that positive reinforcement wasn’t sufficient at stamping out this spam, so now Facebook will try the opposite tack.
Starting this week Facebook’s News Feed algorithm will demote individual “engagement bait” posts, and eventually, it will extend the down-ranking penalty to the Page level so that any Pages that frequently publish these types of posts would see their entire oeuvre of organic posts and ads impacted.
“Publishers and other businesses that use engagement bait tactics in their posts should expect their reach on these posts to decrease. Meanwhile, Pages that repeatedly share engagement bait posts will see more significant drops in reach,” Facebook’s newsfeed integrity specialist Henry Silverman and engineer Lin Huang wrote in a company blog post published on Monday.
Facebook’s move may sound counterintuitive: Isn’t the point of sharing something on Facebook to share something that other people will want to share (or like or comment on)? Yes. But what they share should be more substantial than a request to share. Otherwise, people’s News Feeds could start to resemble people’s email inboxes in the days of the chain letter. No one wants that, especially not Facebook. The social network would risk losing its audience if, in addition to advertisers’ sponsored solicitations, people’s feeds were overrun with non-sponsored solicitations as well.
Engagement bait marks the latest type of content that Facebook’s algorithm has targeted for mucking up people’s News Feeds. Over the past couple of years, Facebook has repeatedly penalized clickbait posts that are designed to get people into opening a link but do not deliver on the promised content. It has also taken aim at spammy links to sites that feature too many ads and too little original content, as well as photos that trick people into thinking they are click-to-play videos.