One of the most annoying experiences while browsing Facebook News Feed is seeing pages, stories, and links that are irrelevant to your sphere of interests. To crack down spam content and reduce the stories that people often report as “spammy”, Facebook announced a series of updates to the News Feed to improve its content deliverables: “to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time.”
Facebook Pages publish many of these stories and topics that users see to get attention, prompt them to click links, or gain a larger distribution than they would usually get. The company targeted three general categories that are connected to the feed spam behavior such as like-baiting, frequently circulated content, and spammy links.
First, a post that explicitly prompts users to like, share or comment on content in a News Feed with the intention of getting more exposure beyond what the account should normally receive is called “like-baiting”. Most users, without knowing how this like-baiting really works, would respond randomly, by liking a post, or sharing it to friends, or by simply asking them to take an action, but the quality isn’t on par with the users’ interests. Most of them yield less enjoyable experience as Facebook cited, “on average, 15% less relevant than other stories with a comparable number of likes, comments and shares” when they surveyed people to rate the stories.
Facebook said, “The improvement we are making today better detects these stories and helps ensure that they are not shown more prominently in News Feed than more relevant stories from friends and other Pages.” While the company didn’t cite technical details on how they do it, they assured that users would see more relevant stories and crack down spammy behavior on content.
Secondly, the updates monitor the frequently circulated content. These are stories and content (photos, links, and videos) frequently re-shared, which are uploaded to the feed many times published by people and Pages. Most users may find these irrelevant, especially if shared hundred times within their network. Facebook noted, “We are improving News Feed to de-emphasize these Pages, and our early testing shows that this change causes people to hide 10% fewer stories from Pages overall.”
Lastly, the spammy links are targeted, too. These are stories and updates that have links and prompts users to click a link or a story that often directs them to a website with advertisements. There are also videos that prompt users to watch it live, but direct them to websites with ads. In order to track these spammy links, Facebook said, “By measuring how frequently people on Facebook who visit a link choose to like the original post or share that post with their friends, we’ve been able to better detect spammy links.”