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article imageFacebook cutting down on spam 'engagement bait'

By James Walker     Dec 18, 2017 in Internet
Facebook's announced a set of measures to combat "engagement bait" in its News Feed. The company is targeting spammy posts that ask users to like, comment or share them. The measure targets ads and sponsored posts that try to game Facebook's algorithms.
In a post published to its newsroom, Facebook explained how "engagement bait" allows advertisers to hijack its monetisation systems. Posts which beg users to like or share specific content are currently prioritised by Facebook. Because so many people interact with them, they end up displaying above other News Feed items.
The company's now introducing new systems to detect when a post is deliberately attracting attention. Pages that regularly use these techniques to promote their content will experience "stricter demotions" as the altered algorithms are rolled out. Continuing to post spammy content that actively seeks engagement will result in "significant drops" in overall post exposure.
"People have told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions," said Facebook. "To help us foster more authentic engagement, teams at Facebook have reviewed and categorized hundreds of thousands of posts to inform a machine learning model that can detect different types of engagement bait. Posts that use this tactic will be shown less in News Feed."
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Facebook recognised that not all posts that encourage engagement should be demoted. The company said that posts from users who are asking friends for help, advice or recommendations will not be impacted by the change. Genuine content that doesn’t intend to be spammy or sensational will continue to rank in News Feed with the same priority as before.
The new measures are Facebook's latest attempt to remove misinformation from its platform. Over the past year, the company has responded to criticism of fake news by launching several News Feed tweaks designed to improve "authenticity." Many of the changes have been made in response to user demand for "meaningful" conversations.
Facebook has previously implemented new techniques to hide clickbait and sensational stories. The changes evidently haven't gone far enough to remove posts that seek attention. Facebook said the new Page-level demotion rules will start to roll-out over the next several weeks. Pages that do not share engagement bait should not notice any changes to their content's exposure.
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