Thank you for clicking on this meaningful headline and welcome to an article with useful information. There were other options, I would presume, like "you won't believe what this one social network is doing to clickbait headlines," but I was banking on those getting pushed to the bottom of your feed. Here's why.
Facebook — that virtual reality world in which your opinions are worth sharing, your political debates are productive, and your exes still let you look at them — is once again cracking down on the tired headline format known as "clickbait," a technique that encourages users to click mindlessly on links in order discover useless information and be served ads.
Facebook first made a similar change its all-important timeline algorithm back in 2014, but apparently more tweaks were necessary. "We’ve heard from people that they specifically want to see fewer stories with clickbait headlines or link titles," Facebook researchers wrote on behalf of the network today. "These are headlines that intentionally leave out crucial information, or mislead people, forcing people to click to find out the answer. For example: “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS I Was SHOCKED!”; “He Put Garlic In His Shoes Before Going To Bed And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe”; or “The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless.” (All of these links go to SFist.com, you're welcome)
Media organizations live and die by their cooperation with Facebook, a very good company run by very nice people like Mark Zuckerberg who is handsome and admirable. For example, remember Upworthy? You probably haven't seen them on your timeline recently: As Neiman Lab explains in some detail, they've had to pivot entirely since their original business model was built on a previous version of Facebook's algorithm that basically exploited a loophole that favored the clickbait format.
More recently, Facebook's "Trending Topics" was the subject of heated debate this spring, with conservative news outlets crying foul after a Gizmodo article alleged that some (very miserable) curators made arbitrary decisions on which news stories to promote, or in the case of conservative news stories, supposedly suppress. Facebook later found no evidence of bias in the selection of its trending topics, according to an internal probe, but not after a fun-sounding meeting in May with irate conservative thought leaders. And last year, Facebook introduced an option for news outlets to instantly publish articles to Facebook, another great idea that we really like.
Thanks again, Facebook. Now, back to my timeline, which is full of useful items like this video my roommate posted moments ago: