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Facebook has updated users on its efforts to limit the spread of video clickbait in the News Feed.
In a Facebook Newsroom Post, the company says they’re especially targeting posts with fake video play buttons that are embedded into an image and videos that only have a static image:
“People want to see accurate information on Facebook, and so do we. When people click on an image in their News Feed featuring a play button, they expect a video to start playing. Spammers often use fake play buttons to trick people into clicking links to low-quality websites. Similarly, these deceptive spammers also use static images disguised as videos to trick people into clicking on a low quality experience.”
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Gaming the System
It’s no secret that Facebook’s algorithm is big on videos, especially longer ones. Spammers have realized this and have been exploiting direct users to low-quality websites and malicious ads. A while ago, users started noticing static memes being displayed in what they expected to be 10-second videos:
To take care of this, over the next couple of weeks Facebook says it will start demoting stories that contain images with fake video play buttons and videos with static images.
Effect on the Publisher
Publishers that rely on these intentionally deceptive practices should expect the distribution of those clickbait stories to markedly decrease. Most pages won’t see significant changes to their distribution in News Feed, but, as always, publishers should refer to its publishing best practices.
Since the U.S. election last year, Facebook has been more aggressive about moderating content distribution on its platform.
In May, they rolled out additional updates to the News Feed as part of their effort to limit the distribution and prevalence of clickbait posts on the social platform, saying that “it will target clickbait on an individual post level and not just by analyzing the bulk posts of a page. It will also look at two distinct signals: whether a headline ‘withholds information or if it exaggerates information separately.’”