Facebook Goes After Spam Posts in Algorithm Changes

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Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) posts that ask users to like, share, comment, or ignore are going to become a no-no in the near future due to changes in the computer formula responsible for the News Feed.

Facebook is tinkering with what users will see in their News Feed — the goal is to keep the spam out of users’ feeds, it claims.

Facebook announced the change in a post on its newsroom blog Thursday. The post says that the reason is to prevent repetitive material, spam and “like-baiting,” which they say causes users to hide content because they find it less relevant.

“We’ve found that people tend to find these instances of repeated content less relevant, and are more likely to complain about the Pages that frequently post them,” the company wrote. “We are improving News Feed to de-emphasize these Pages, and our early testing shows that this change causes people to hide 10% fewer stories from Pages overall.”

The post goes on to detail the three types of spam the changes to the News Feed algorithm will target: “like-baiting,” the practice of asking for likes on a post or photo; frequently circulated content; and spammy links. The post claims that these are all problems on the News Feed. It said that too much of that spam diminishes the user experience. Facebook claims that the majority of users and pages will be mostly unaffected by these changes.

“The vast majority of publishers on Facebook are not posting feed spam so they should not be negatively impacted by these changes, and, if anything, may see a very small increase in News Feed distribution,” said Facebook in its statement.

The post says that the changes will affect about small portion of users and pages. Those affected are the users that produce the type of content the changes are trying to reduce and prevent from making it to other users’ News Feeds in the first place.

Time noted in its coverage of the update that users may see links they share demoted in the News Feed if another friend shared it first. This could affect viral content or popular news stories, neither of which are spam.

This is a one of many changes in Facebook’s algorithm in the past year. Facebook changed it in August so that older posts by friends that were getting a lot of comments or likes would appear in the News Feed. Mashable’s story mentioned tweaks to the formula in December and also in February.

Critics often claim that Facebook’s changes to its formula reduce the reach of pages, forcing companies to advertise their pages in order to reach Facebook users, and preventing people who like the page from seeing all of its posts. Eat24 recently “broke up” with Facebook over such changes. Facebook claims the newest updates will better Facebook users’ experience on the world’s largest social media hub.

If more posts and less spam result from the latest change, perhaps this will generate fewer complaints than the last redesign.

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