Facebook Fights Clickbait


Jay Park, Staff Writer

  It’s just a title: ‘You won’t guess how one ingredient in your doughnuts are leaving thousands homeless!’ You silently think how ridiculous the title is, but you still click it. “It’s just something I will take a quick glance over, it won’t even take a minute,” you say to yourself. Ten minutes later you leave frustrated, wondering how the title even related to the poorly written story that wasted your time. Clickbait has surrounded both social media and online because of how successful it is. Embodying our frustrations, Facebook has implemented a new algorithm to lower the number of clickbaits in your newsfeed.

  Clickbait was inevitable with the rise of the Web. Internet has made everything more accessible to us. Along with this process, websites who generate revenue from the traffic of viewers on their site discovered that they only need to lure people into clicking their posts. Things spiraled out of control since then. At every corner of the internet, flashy titles, like “What Every High Schooler Should Know,” where the title is directed at a very general audience but still enticing you to just click. Key words like “every,” “won’t believe,” and “actually” naturally draw people in. Regardless of how poorly-written the article it is, it will draw more attention than high quality articles with a truthful title.

  Facebook is a prime example of where an individual is swarmed with misleading articles that withhold information and use exaggerated titles. Recently, the company has taken a step in combating this situation. By detecting keywords used across clickbait titles, similar posts and the site that posts them will descend in priority in your newsfeed. To make it less punishing, if the domain stops posting clickbait, it will climb up again.

  Will this work? It will, since publishers are very attentive to how they are displayed on Facebook, but probably not for long. Social media generates incredible amounts of traffic for websites, and algorithms usually contain loopholes that will inevitably be found and exploited. In a world where websites trying to outdo each other in attracting visitors, they may just move on to other platforms. 

  It is uncertain which direction the media is heading. The real essence of journalism is being crowded out by the flood of clickbaits. The websites advertise more seemingly  entertaining, but undoubtedly useless information to their visitors. The “art” of clickbaiting hardly takes any effort, compared to writing an excellent article. Also, the fact that pictures can be distorted and mislead people into clicking them is not counted in the algorithm and will be difficult to prevent. Despite this, Facebook is a pioneer and taking small steps at a time to fight clickbait so that hopefully the future of journalism is not solely based on how attention-grabbing the title is.