Facebook to Tackle “Engagement Baiting” by Demoting Posts and Pages
If you’re a frequent Facebook user like me, you’ve probably come across solicitous posts in your News Feed asking you to “Like” something if you’re “a fan of dogs”, for example, or to comment on a post “letter by letter.” It’s called engagement baiting, and its sole motivation is to get people to interact by liking, reacting, commenting, or sharing low-quality posts (sort of like clickbait headlines). It’s not new to Facebook by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s gotten worse with the rollout of the social network’s emoji Reactions feature, which affects the visibility of posts on your News Feed. Facebook’s heard complaints about engagement baiting loud and clear, though, and it’s preparing to tackle the issue this week.
“People have told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions,” Facebook wrote in a blog post. “This tactic […] seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach. So, starting this week, we will begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait.
Facebook says its teams have reviewed and categorized “hundreds of thousands” of engagement bait posts and taught a machine learning model to detect different types. The results will be used to algorithmically demote posts from engagement-baiting people and pages “in an effort to promote authentic engagement” in posts, Facebook says. In addition, the machine learning system will punish repeat offenders by reducing the overall visibility of their posts.
Not all posts will get the banhammer, though. Facebook says that posts asking for help or advice, such as raising money for a cause or asking for music recommendations, won’t be “adversely impacted” by the update.
Post-level demotion will roll out this week, according to Facebook, and page-level demotion will roll out over the course of the next few weeks. In the interim, you can report engagement bait posts using the Report tool.