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Facebook is making some changes to how it handles comments in its algorithm to better promote real discussion.

Everyone knows that Facebook uses an algorithm to help sort which posts get shown to users, but you may not be aware that the social network uses a similar system to help rank comments.

With the new update, the company says it will do a better job or highlighting comments with specific “positive” quality signals, while demoting low-quality comments.

Comment Quality Signals

According to the new announcement, Facebook will be using four types of signals to analyze comments:

  1. Integrity Signals
  2. User Indicated Preferences
  3. User Interaction Signals
  4. Moderation Signals

Integrity Signals

Facebook’s “Integrity Signals” are designed to assess the authenticity of comments. Specifically, it will be looking to see if comments violate community standards or qualify as “engagement-bait”

Engagement Bait is a practice which involves either explicitly encouraging users to react, like, share, subscribe, or take any other form of action in exchange for something else. This can even be something as innocuous as asking followers to do push-ups.

User Indicated Preferences

User Indicated Preferences are established through Facebook’s direct polling of users. By doing this, the social network is able to directly ask users what they want to see in comments and what they think promotes real discussion.

User Interaction Signals

These are pretty self-obvious. User Interaction Signals are indications whether a user has interacted with a post.

Moderation Signals

Moderation Signals are based on whether other users choose to hide or delete comments made on their post. Facebook explains this practice in a bit more detail, saying:

“People can moderate the comments on their post by hiding, deleting, or engaging with comments.

Ranking is on by default for Pages and people with a a lot of followers, but Pages and people with a lot of followers can choose to turn off comment ranking.

People who don’t have as many followers will not have comment ranking turned on automatically since there are less comments overall, but any person can decide to enable comment ranking by going to their settings.”

Why Facebook Ranks Comments

As with Facebook’s post ranking algorithms, the primary goal of Facebook’s new comment algorithm update is to promote the best quality content within people’s feeds while hiding spammy or low-quality content. As the company says in its announcement:

“To improve relevance and quality, we’ll start showing comments on public posts more prominently when:

  • The comments have interactions from the Page or person who originally posted; or

  • The comments or reactions are from friends of the person who posted.”

You can read the full announcement from Facebook here.

FacebookClick

We can all pretty much agree clickbait is the worst. There’s nothing as annoying as clicking a misleading headline only to be taken to a poorly made website, usually covered in ads, and filled with bad copy. Thankfully, Facebook is trying to put an end to clickbait with new changes to their ranking algorithm.

After reviewing tens of thousands of articles and headlines, a team at Facebook built a system they believe will block huge amounts of clickbait by targeting common phrases. According to Facebook, the system works similarly to an email spam filter but for the News Feed.

The social network specifically defines clickbait as headlines that withhold information or exaggerate to create misleading expectations. That means headlines like “You’ll Never Believe Who Tripped and Fell on the Red Carpet or “Apples are Actually Bad For You?!” won’t be able to cheaply rack up clicks.

As Facebook explains:

We’ve heard from people that they specifically want to see fewer stories with clickbait headlines or link titles. 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.”

For most Facebook brands and publishers, this is good news. You won’t have to compete with sites that use cheap methods to rack up clicks and shares without creating compelling content. However, if you’ve been using clickbaity headlines, you may be in for trouble.

In the coming weeks, brands that are guilty of using clickbait will see their news feed visibility decrease substantially. If you want to avoid this, Facebook says to put more effort into your headlines and share content people want to read.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has taken efforts against clickbait. Back in 2014, the company released a similar update designed to cut out clickbait by measuring how long people stayed on a site before returning to Facebook. It also compared click-through rate and engagement rate to determine if content was actually high-quality.