Facebook to cut 'click-bait' links

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Facebook will now time how long users spend on a site before returning as a way of gauging the value of content Facebook will now time how long users spend on a site before returning as a way of gauging the value of content

Facebook has announced plans to cut down on "click-bait" articles that appear on user news feeds, as the company says it wants to tackle spam on the site.

"Click-bait" refers to articles that encourage the reader to click a story to see more, without telling them exactly what they will see. Common headlines include "you won't believe what happened next" and similar vague suggestions to draw in users.

Facebook will now time how long users spend on a site before returning to it as a way of gauging the value of content.

According to the social network, users have been telling it that these stories are being given too much presence on news feeds and Facebook has moved to change that.

The site's algorithm currently pushes stories that receive more clicks up a feed and Facebook has admitted users felt content from friends and family was being "drowned out".

In a post on the company's blog, Facebook's Khalid El-Arini and Joyce Tang outlined how the social site will start to tackle "click-bait" stories.

They say: "One way is to look at how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook. 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.

"With this update we will start taking into account whether people tend to spend time away from Facebook after clicking a link, or whether they tend to come straight back to news feed when we rank stories with links in them."

Facebook also said it would use the number of comments and shares a story received as part of the judgement.

The post said: "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.

"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 social network, which has more than one billion monthly active users, said that a recent survey found 80% of the time users preferred headlines that gave them more information about an article before they clicked on it.

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