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Facebook’s criteria for what shows up on your News Feed does not include clickbait

The content distribution guidelines recently shared by Facebook will determine what type of posts get suppressed.

Ever wondered what kind of content is Facebook intentionally showing less of on the News Feed? The company published its content distribution guidelines on September 22 to increase transparency around policies governing its algorithms.

“We want to give a clearer sense of what we think is problematic but not worth removing,” Jason Hersch, head of integrity policy at Facebook, told The Verge. The guidelines outline 28 types of posts that get reduced distribution on Facebook.

The distribution guidelines shed light on how Facebook sets incentives for content creators and dictates what type of content has a chance to thrive on the platform. Such guidelines might make their way onto Facebook-owned Instagram among other social media platforms in the future.

Why does Facebook demote content and what type gets demoted?

According to the guidelines, there are three broad values on the basis of which Facebook decides what content to demote on the News Feed: user feedback, incentivising high-quality content, and ensuring safety.

1. User feedback: The company listens to feedback gathered from Facebook users about what they prefer to see on the News Feed and formulates guidelines accordingly, demoting certain types of posts such as:

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  • Destination pages: Posts containing links to destination pages that are poorly formatted, not mobile-friendly, or broken.
  • Sensationalist health content: Posts with exaggerated health claims, including miracle cures.
  • Clickbait: Posts that withhold information or use sensationalist phrasing, with headlines like “You won’t believe…” or “You’ll never guess…”

2. Low-quality/inaccurate content: To provide ‘interesting new material’ on its News Feed, Facebook sets incentives to discourage sub-par content. This is done by reducing distribution of certain low-quality posts:

  • No transparent authorship: News articles without bylines or a directory containing editorial staff information
  • Unoriginal news articles: News articles that do not contain new, original reporting or analysis.
  • Misinformation: Content debunked as “False, Altered, or Partly False” by fact-checking organisations certified by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN)

3. Safety: Content that’s ‘problematic’ for Facebook users is intentionally made more difficult for people to encounter. Posts demoted under this category include:

  • Content from repeat violators: Posts from people, pages, or groups that violated Facebook’s community standards multiple times in the past.
  • Posts from people with multiple accounts: Posts from people who, according to Facebook’s predictions. created multiple accounts for the purposes of evading enforcement.
  • Destination pages with shocking/sexual content: Posts with links to pages that include sexual activity. adult nudity or shocking content like violence or cruelty.

What else do we know about Facebook’s News Feed Curation?

Reports from the past two months have made notable revelations about Facebook’s policies around the News Feed.

  • Pro-Facebook stories boosted: Facebook plans to promote positive stories about itself via users’ News Feeds, The New York Times reported on September 21.
  • Different rules for high-profile users:  High-profile users on Facebook are exempt from some or all of the social media giant’s rules, the Wall Street Journal reported on September 13.
  • Less political content: Facebook tested showing less political content on News Feed in the US, Canada, Brazil, and Indonesia earlier this year, and now plans to expand the tests to Costa Rica, Sweden, Spain, and Ireland, Engadget reported.

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Figuring out subscriptions and growth at MediaNama. Email: nishant@medianama.com

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