Facebook Are Taking Major Steps to Blot Out Spam Posts

Two months ago, Facebook made a promise to start blacklisting links to 'low quality' websites (pornography, mainly) in the newsfeed. In an announcement last Friday, they took that one step further, outlining a new update which will hide posts from people who spam news feeds with, well, spam. That could be clickbait, links to poorly optimised or otherwise substandard websites or any kind of rabble rousing content, especially if it's bogus.

The focus here isn't on the nature of the content, so much as the behaviour of the users who post it. Facebook have done studies into the frequency of user posting and identified a subset of users who post dozens of links a day, and drew a direct link between those users and poor quality content. In short, if users are posting huge amounts of content, they're almost definitely spamming. Under these new rules, spammer content won't be visible on news feeds.

This change will only affect links to articles and domains, any other kind of Facebook post won't be counted, so if you feel like firing out a string of cat videos one dreary afternoon, don't fret, your like-happy uncle Derek will not be deprived of them. What Facebook really want out of this is to offer people a news feed which hosts only useful or interesting information.

Of course, some users will likely end up getting caught in the crossfire, particularly if they're promoting material from one specific website. Staff journalists will often share numerous links for their site/magazine throughout the day, and some of this activity could be mistakenly flagged as spamming, rather than innocent promotion. It's not clear whether or not this system can actually tell the difference.

From a publisher's point of view, it might well mean that the clickbait-centric approach won't be as effective as it was before. Currently, a lot of websites rely on listicles with clickbait-style titles to generate ad-revenue. In turn, they use a cadre of different accounts sharing them to boost engagement. There's nothing ostensibly wrong with this, cynical as it is, but if Facebook start pushing back, we may end up seeing a downturn in that type of content. For websites which deal in it exclusively, this will be a worrying notion.

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