Facebook on Monday announced plans to fight click-bait link sharing. The social network will fight what some users consider spam, by sharing content on news feed based on an articles time-on-site numbers.
Facebook will look at how long users stay on a website after they click a link. If a user quickly jumps back to Facebook, the social network will assume that the link offers nothing valuable to readers. If users stay on the site, and perhaps even jump around to other articles, Facebook will assume that the link is valuable, and therefore share it with more Facebook news feeds.
In a Facebook blog post, employees Khalid El-Arini and Joyce Tang write, “If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted.”
Company’s like Upworthy, Buzzfeed, and Viral Nova rely heavily on those type of click-bait titles to draw in users, and a move away from Facebook’s current setup could cause pageview declines at those sites. On the other hand, Buzzfeed, Bored Panda, and others, have begun to beef up their content with longer picture descriptions, and videos, all moves meant to increase time on site numbers.
According to Shareaholic, Facebook was still driving 23 percent of all social traffic in June 2014, while it’s closest competitor, Pinterest, is responsible for just 5.7 perfect of all traffic. Twitter takes the third place spot with 1 percent of all socially referred traffic.
While Facebook is adding a new layer to its news feed algorithm, the company will still rely on Likes and Comments to determine if a post is popular among users. If you can manage a large number of likes and comments at the time of posting, you should still see a decent return on the number of users who visit your content page.
“Another factor we will use to try and show fewer of these types of stories is to look at the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends,” the post stated. “If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this also suggests that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them.”
The blog post makes no excuses for the changes. The post goes on to state, “A small set of publishers who are frequently posting links with click-bait headlines that many people don’t spend time reading after they click through may see their distribution decrease in the next few months. We’re making these changes to ensure that click-bait content does not drown out the things that people really want to see on Facebook.”
The effects of the changes might take months to witness, but those changes are definitely on the way.