By Arun Babu, Engineer, Annie Liu, Engineer, and Jordan Zhang, Engineer

People tell us they don’t like stories that are misleading, sensational or spammy. That includes clickbait headlines that are designed to get attention and lure visitors into clicking on a link. In an effort to support an informed community, we’re always working to determine what stories might have clickbait headlines so we can show them less often.

Last year we made an update to News Feed to reduce stories from sources that consistently post clickbait headlines that withhold and exaggerate information. Today, we are making three updates that build on this work so that people will see even fewer clickbait stories in their feeds, and more of the stories they find authentic.

  • First, we are now taking into account clickbait at the individual post level in addition to the domain and Page level, in order to more precisely reduce clickbait headlines.
  • Second, in order to make this more effective, we are dividing our efforts into two separate signals — so we will now look at whether a headline withholds information or if it exaggerates information separately.
  • Third, we are starting to test this work in additional languages.

How We Are Improving Our Efforts

One of our News Feed values is authentic communication, so we’ve been working to understand what people find authentic and what people do not.

We’ve learned from last year’s update that we can better detect different kinds of clickbait headlines by separately — rather than jointly — identifying signals that withhold or exaggerate information.

Headlines that withhold information intentionally leave out crucial details or mislead people, forcing them to click to find out the answer. For example, “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS…” Headlines that exaggerate the details of a story with sensational language tend to make the story seem like a bigger deal than it really is. For example, “WOW! Ginger tea is the secret to everlasting youth. You’ve GOT to see this!”

We addressed this similarly to how we previously worked to reduce clickbait: We categorized hundreds of thousands of headlines as clickbait or not clickbait by considering if the headline exaggerates the details of a story, and separately if the headline withholds information. A team at Facebook reviewed thousands of headlines using these criteria, validating each other’s work to identify large sets of clickbait headlines.

From there, we identify what phrases are commonly used in clickbait headlines that are not used in other headlines. This is similar to how many email spam filters work.

Posts with clickbait headlines will appear lower in News Feed. We will continue to learn over time, and we hope to continue expanding this work to reduce clickbait in even more languages.

Will This Impact My Page?

We anticipate that most Pages won’t see any significant changes to their distribution in News Feed as a result of this update.

Publishers that rely on clickbait headlines should expect their distribution to decrease. Pages should avoid headlines that withhold information required to understand the content of the article and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations. If a Page stops posting clickbait and sensational headlines, their posts will stop being impacted by this change.

As always, Pages should refer to our publishing best practices. We will learn from these changes and will continue to work on reducing clickbait so News Feed is a place for authentic communication.