Facebook Tweaks to Enrich Users' Experience and Take Down Clickbaits

Andre Parker August 18, 2017
Facebook Tweaks to Enrich Users' Experience and Take Down Clickbaits

Facebook Inc. is now in the process of testing a new feature that is expected to improve its users' experience, and to lengthen the time that people spend using the world's most popular social networking site.

The new feature is labeled as "Featured Topic," and is expected to give users a better experience by introducing more relevant contents based on their preferences. It includes links to news stories and photos found in News Feed, which is considered the core of Facebook.

Facebook has shown much eagerness to enhance its core by running tests on new tweaks and features before making them officially an integrated part of the Facebook experience. These tests usually take a length of time while being subjected to evaluations and feed backs.

News stories have been Facebook's primary concern, as the company has been progressively developing its reputation as a trustworthy news platform, given the fact that it is used by countless people around the world.

By bringing a series of changes in its News Feed algorithm, Facebook has aggressively combated fake news, malicious contents, and false information. Recent updates include utilizing third party fact-checkers, machine learning, and the hunting of clickbaits. 

Ahead of the U.S. presidential election last year, the company has suffered blasts from critics as its website was blamed for the spread of an overwhelming number of unverified and/or totally false information.

Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive officer of Facebook, had to face these criticisms, and was even pressed on the topic of his company's role as a powerful and reliable channel for news delivery. 

Zuckerberg once described the idea of fake news being a huge influence to the result of the election as "pretty crazy," although he also expressed his deep concern on how Facebook could affect democracy, and on what the company could do to forge a more positive impact on the community.

Continuing Clickbait Obliteration

In May, Facebook engineers Arun Babu, Annie Liu, and Jordan Zhang wrote on a blog post the updates they have designed in order to lessen or demolish clickbaits that were proliferating on the website. They have expounded the process which they used to markedly decrease the amount of clickbait posts.

In the said post, they have written two distinct signals which they used to decide whether a specific post or shared article should be considered as clickbait, even citing two very explanatory examples to differentiate the two signals.

"We will now look at whether a headline withholds information or if it exaggerates information separately," the team stated.

Baraa Hamodi, Zahir Bokhari, and Yun Zhang, another team of engineers from Facebook, posted another blog on August 17, articulating another update for the on-going clickbait obliteration campaign.

They announced the launch of two updates aimed to further decrease the spread of clickbait posts, particularly of two video clickbait kinds.

Facebook users have reported seeing tons of video clickbaits which were typically suggestive photos with embedded play buttons, or videos that only show static images. A report claimed that these static videos were usually simple 10-minute long memes.

"Similarly, these deceptive spammers also use static images disguised as videos to trick people into clicking on a low-quality experience. To limit this, during the coming weeks we will begin demoting stories that feature fake video play buttons and static images disguised as videos in News Feed," the engineers wrote.

The engineers have expressed their determination to satisfy users who want to see more accurate and authentic posts and articles, hence this latest intensified scouring of News Feed.

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Andre Parker


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