Facebook is cracking down on a new type of clickbait: Posts that ask people to “Like” or share or comment to goose engagement numbers, what Facebook is calling “engagement bait.”
You’ve probably seen posts like this in your feed. Like if you think cats are best. Share if you think dogs are best. It’s a tactic that publishers use to game Facebook’s algorithm, which rewards posts that get better engagement and shows them to more people.
Facebook has decided it doesn’t like publishers gaming the system this way, and claims users don’t like it either. “People have told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions,” the company wrote on its blog.
So starting Monday, posts that Facebook considers to be engagement bait will be pushed down in News Feed. Beginning in a few weeks, publishers and Pages that continue to utilize this tactic will see their reach diminished for all of their posts.
Facebook tweaks its algorithm all the time to prioritize or de-prioritize certain types of content. Just last week Facebook announced an algorithm tweak intended to show users more video, and in the past it has cracked down on other types of spammy posts, like clickbait or links that send users to websites full of ads.
It’s unclear if Facebook’s effort to eliminate spam is actually working — the company doesn’t share any metrics around spam content and whether it has gone down as a result of its algorithm changes. On one hand, it continues to tweak the algorithm to fight spam, which means the problem still exists in some form. But considering Facebook has a ton of control over what people can and cannot see in News Feed, it’s probably safe to assume there’s less spam than before.