We don’t always use clickbait headlines, but when we do, we use a thesaurus. Win-win, right Facebook?

Sorry viral sites. Facebook is a bitter ex. Those days of telling me I won’t believe #14 in whatever the hell I clicked are coming to an end. Until marketers figure out another way around the algorithm. And they will.

Facebook is back at it in its war against clickbait. They even made a handy guide of what not to use. I thought the first rule of an algorithm change was not to talk about the algorithm change?

Some poor team had to sift through the Internet’s endless supply of bullshit and manually assign clickbaitness scores to various titles. Isn’t making up a word – clickbaitness – actually clickbait?

Here are some of the headlines Facebook can detect and push their reach to nothing:

“When She Looked Under Her Couch And Saw THIS… I Was SHOCKED!”; “He Put Garlic In His Shoes And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe”; or “The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless.”

Ok, I’ll bite and say I’d click on the first and third. The garlic headline? What the hell is that even supposed to be about?

Facebook Hates Apples?

The News Feed algorithm change isn’t a simple score of clickbait or not clickbait. Can’t do that. Media sites have to churn through VC cash somehow. It comes down to two central themes:

(1) if the headline withholds information required to understand what the content of the article is; and (2) if the headline exaggerates the article to create misleading expectations for the reader.

An example of a misleading headline according to Facebook? Apples Are Actually Bad For You!? That misleads the reader because, according to Facebook, apples are only bad for you if you eat too many.

Damn it Facebook. You just broke the first rule by withholding information on how many apples one has to eat to reach a tipping point.

And I found out the question is pretty damn legitimate. In fact, ‘what happens when you eat too many apples?’ has ten answers on Quora. Serious answers. You’ll be spending time in the restroom. Are we all clear on what happens next?

Bid Facebook Organic Reach Farewell

Make a living posting bs stories with absurd titles? Find a new social platform or start using a new headline generator. Facebook will ding Pages that consistently post clickbait headlines and drive its reach into the ground.

The random post of a clickbait story? We all make mistakes. Facebook has a best practices guide on how to avoid clickbait headlines. It even comes with a not subtle swipe at Gizmodo.

Facebook vs gizmodo

Wasn’t there a pen like that on Kickstarter? If not, someone should get on that.

Ask yourself if the headline is complete bullshit. If yes, move on. Simple, right? No, the superfood of peanut butter will not shred your abs. At least not into a six-pack. Maybe a case, but not Men’s Health cover model ready.

Facebook Needs Your Clicks

Before you lose your mind and start stuffing the headlines with the entire story, calm down. Facebook needs it in moderation. It’s like apples. Great for you, but would you eat the produce section at Whole Foods in a day?

Same goes for headlines. Keep it simple. I’d say factual but turn on cable news. And we’re back to clickbait, rage inducing headlines. Facebook still needs people sharing stories. Wall Street makes the rules for the public company despite the noble gesture.

We may dream of a utopian world of no ‘SHOCKING’ headlines, but once you get to #14, you’ll realize we’re the problem. I actually googled what happens if I ate too many apples. I should have searched ‘why I keep buying apples I never eat?’

Gear. TV. Movies. Lifestyle. Photography. Yeah, I’m the type who sees a shiny object and is immediately captivated. Wait... There’s another. You can reach me at marcus@newsledge.com

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