Having already tackled the problem of fake news, Facebook is ramping up its efforts to curb engagement bait. This being posts that ask for likes, shares, or comments. Just like clickbait, engagement bait is designed to turn users from passive observers to active participants.
Initially, individual posts will be demoted from the news feed, but Facebook will then start penalizing the people, pages, and groups who employ these tactics. The idea is to stop people from gaming the system, using high levels of engagement to improve their standing on Facebook.
Gaming Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm
Engagement bait is any post designed to artificially inflate engagement levels, whether that engagement is likes, comments, shares, tags, or votes. The idea is to game Facebook’s algorithm which boosts posts it thinks are proving popular. So, more engagement equals more eyeballs.
To tackle the problem of engagement bait, Facebook has had human editors categorize “hundreds of thousands of posts to inform a machine learning model”. And now that machine learning will be able to spot engagement bait and demote the post. So it will actually be shown to less people.
From the "It's About Time!" file….Facebook is going to start demoting those silly, annoying posts that call for…
Over the next few weeks Facebook will be concentrating on individual posts. However, after that the pages that “systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach” will be demoted too. In other words, publishers who ignore this warning will suffer the consequences.
It should be noted that posts that ask for “help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips” will not be included in this crackdown on engagement bait. That is assuming that the machine learning is up to speed.
Engagement Bait Makes Facebook Less Fun
I suspect everyone reading this has seen engagement bait on Facebook. Because, to put it bluntly, it works. However, just like clickbait and fake news, engagement bait makes Facebook less fun and less useful than it should be. So it’s good to see Facebook cracking down on it.
How often do you see engagement bait being used on Facebook? Do you give those responsible the likes, comments, or shares they want? Or do you purposely avoid falling for such tactics? Do you support Facebook’s stand against it? Please let us know in the comments below!