Why Clickbait Was on Its Way Out Anyways

Why Clickbait Was on Its Way Out Anyways

Facebook has announced some new rules (and penalties) surrounding ‘clickbait’. Although it might have been a little late.

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook announced that they would begin penalizing users (mostly Upworthy) for sharing clickbait posts. It’s a nice idea and certainly adds to the user experience on Facebook, but it seems a little like the network is late to the party and they’re solving a ‘problem’ we’ve already moved past.

What Exactly is Clickbait?

Have you ever been using Facebook and seen an article pop up in your news feed that looks a little something like this:

Clickbait example from Upworthy

Or this:

Facebook Clickbait Example

You almost certainly have. Our news feeds have been flooded with posts from pages like Upworthy, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and plenty more that are enticing users to click based on the structure of their post (it looks like an image, but it’s not!) and their rhetoric. You would swear that clicking on the link would change your life forever, but when you land on the page, you see that it is kind of a waste of your time. (That’s not always the case, but more often than not, it is.)

Well, Facebook put their foot down and said, “Enough!”

Facebook’s New Rule

After a survey conducted by Facebook indicated that 80% of users wanted fewer clickbait-type headlines, the company decided to step in. They announced that they would begin suppressing content that contained the qualities of a clickbait link.

Facebook plans on growing. In order to do that, people need to be happy with the platform. When there is a nearly unanimous negative sentiment around a particular issue, it is your job as a company to take action to eliminate it. This is what Facebook took note of, and what they are trying to eradicate.

The only issue is that they might be a little too late to the party.

We’re Over It

Though Facebook’s announcement and these improvements are done with the best of intentions, the reality is that Facebook is late to the game. A lot of us have already moved past the issues we have had with clickbait. I, personally, indicate with the small arrow above posts that I do not wish to view a particular piece of content. After a few of these, it more or less does away with content from these kinds of pages.

Based on some conversations I’ve had, I’m not alone in doing this. A lot of people have simply started ignoring posts from certain pages, un-liking them on the network, and simply doing what Facebook is going to do on their own.

The benefits here is that now these pages will be forced to comply. While most of us (those that this new change would have had the greatest impact on) will not notice much of a difference, those that have been baited by these pages can take solace in the fact that they won’t have to deal with those kinds of posts anymore. That said, it shouldn’t be long before we see an alternative to clickbait that is equally unnerving.

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Corey Padveen is a data-oriented marketing professional with a focus on statistical analyses of human behavior. This specialization has led him to speak and present at dozens of conferences around the world, to write for a variety of reputable online and print publications, and recently, to publish ‘Marketing to Millennials For Dummies’ as part of the world-renowned ‘For Dummies’ series. He regularly shares real world examples and findings from his research, and discusses how members of society are evolving as consumers, communicators, and a global network as a whole.
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