Facebook announced today that it is making a series of improvements to News Feed aimed at diminishing the number of posts users consider a nuisance or “spammy.”
In a post on Facebook’s official news page by software engineer Erich Owens and product manager Chris Turitzin, the social media giant will target three categories of what it calls “feed spam behavior”: Like-baiting, frequently circulated content and misleading or spammy links.
A post is considered “Like-baiting” when it specifically asks you to like, comment or share it. This, of course, is a way to “game the system” and increase the post’s probability of getting shown to not only more people, but also higher up in News Feed. According to Facebook’s research, these like-baiting posts are 15-percent less relevant to users than other posts with a similar number of likes. The company said that these posts “lead to a less enjoyable experience of Facebook since they drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about” – something with which most users will agree.
Frequently circulated items, second on Facebook’s cleaning list, are photos or videos that are repeatedly updated on the network and keep appearing in users’ News Feed. The company said it will begin to de-emphasize those stories and cites early testing that shows this will cause users to hide 10 percent fewer stories from Pages.
Last and certainly not least on Facebook’s spring cleaning list are spammy links, which is music to the ears of many users who have been suckered into clicking on a link that has had dire consequences to their Facebook experience. This phase also targets posts that are intentionally misleading, which send you to a website that only contains ads or other frequently circulated content. In combating this, Facebook cites early testing showing a 5-percent increase in users clicking on links to take them off the social network.
Facebook ensures that this update will only affect pages and people that repeatedly and intentionally use the post tactics above. Those users will see their distribution decrease over the next few months. Conversely, Facebook said that users who don’t post feed spam may see a “very small increase” in distribution.
Facing competition from all sides, Facebook is doing everything to keep current users happy and growing the user base. Keeping News Feed relevant and trustworthy – i.e. less “spammy” – is certainly a step in that direction.