Facebook's News Feed Is About To Get A Lot Less 'Spammier'
April 11, 2014

Facebook’s News Feed Is About To Get A Lot Less ‘Spammier’

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Facebook is putting on a new face on its News Feed, as the long-promised clean-up begins. On Thursday Facebook announced a three-prong plan to reduce News Feed spam by going after so-called “like-baiting” – a type of posting where users blatantly ask readers to like, comment, or even share a story.

According to the social network many users consider these types of stories – where the poster asks for feedback – to be as much as 15 percent less relevant than other stories with comparable number of likes.

According to Facebook, the “Like-baiting” results in people responding to posts, which sounds like a good thing, but when surveyed the users don’t seem to agree. Over time such content actually leads to a less enjoyable experience on the social media service, as it can drown out content from friends and pages that people do actually care about.

“The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important and relevant to them,” Facebook’s Erich Owens, software engineer, and Chris Turitzin, product manager, posted on Thursday in the Facebook newsroom. “Today we are announcing a series of improvements to News Feed to reduce stories that people frequently tell us are spammy and that they don’t want to see. Many of these stories are published by Pages that deliberately try and game News Feed to get more distribution than they normally would. Our update targets three broad categories of this type of feed spam behavior.”

Facebook promises that the improvements it is making will better detect these types of spammy posting, and it will work to ensure that these are not shown more prominently in News Feed than more relevant stories from friends and other Pages. The social network also stressed on Thursday that this particular update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, but instead will focus initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.

“Some stories in News Feed use inaccurate language or formatting to try and trick people into clicking through to a website that contains only ads or a combination of frequently circulated content and ads,” Owens and Turitzin added. “For instance, often these stories claim to link to a photo album but instead take the viewer to a website with just ads.”

Facebook also noted that many users might not even see much of a difference as the vast majority of publishers on the social media service are not posting feed spam. Hence these publishers of content will not be negatively impacted by these changes, and it was noted that if anything some may even see a very small increase in News Feed distribution.

There are other reasons why the social network could be looking to push this, noted ReadWriteWeb on Thursday.

“The news should come as no surprise to Page owners, as Facebook’s public efforts to show more relevant posts and information on the News Feed began last summer,” Selena Larson wrote. “Of course, the News Feed adjustments don't just benefit users—these changes are likely to result in more advertising dollars for Facebook, since the best way for people to see your posts, as the company kindly reminded us in March, is to pay for ads.”