In efforts to clean up its users’ News Feeds, Facebook claims to be rolling out an algorithm update to cut down the number of posts and ads linked to low-quality “web page experiences”.
The update will crack down on posts with links out to sites containing “little substantive content” that are “covered in disruptive, shocking or malicious ads”, and reduce the “economic incentives of financially-motivated spammers”.
According to the group, the move falls into its campaign against misinformation, having already tightened up its policies on “clickbait” and having made rigorous efforts to stem the dissemination of fake news, including banning known publishers from its ad network and enabling users to report its presence.
Down-ranking spam posts
This latest update is just a tightening of the screws, however. Facebook has had a policy in place since last year against “low quality or disruptive content”, with examples including high ad-content ratios, deceptive text, sexual or shocking content on landing pages, and excessively cropped images that require users to click on the advert to view.
However, the update will improve the company’s enforcement of these policies on organic News Feed posts by reviewing “hundreds of thousands” of web pages linked to and from Facebook to identify those that fall within its classification of poor content. The company then uses artificial intelligence to match new shared web pages with similar characteristics.
“This is one of the first times we’re actually using information from the experience that people will have once they click something to help inform the ranking in News Feed,” said Greg Marra, a product manager at Facebook.
The end result is that these posts are pushed down the user’s News Feed and won’t be eligible to become a Facebook ad.
For Facebook, the update is part of its long game to sustain ad revenue. If users are clicking ads less because of a decline in trust on content on the other end, a loss of referral traffic will hurt the social network’s bottom line and could reduce user browsing time - hence impressions, engagement and shares, on site.