Starting this week, Facebook will begin demoting spammy or “engagement bait” posts that goad users into taking actions like sharing, tagging, liking, or commenting. Posts which prompt users to “Tag a friend who likes to nap!” seem popular because they game Facebook’s algorithms, which causes Facebook to prioritize those posts in more News Feeds. The company says posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations like raising money for charity or asking for travel advice won’t be affected by the update.
Facebook reviewed and categorized hundreds of thousands of posts and taught a machine learning model to detect the different types of engagement bait. The company says it will implement stricter demotions for Pages that repeatedly bait engagement in a few weeks to give publishers time to adapt. “Moving forward, we will continue to find ways to improve and scale our efforts to reduce engagement bait,” Facebook said. “We want to reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook.” Facebook says Pages that repeatedly post engagement bait will see more “significant drops” in reach.
Facebook regularly tweaks its News Feed algorithm to reduce clickbait and to target video spam, junk posts, and fake likes.