ScienceBlog: Clickbait Secrets Exposed! Humans And AI Team Up To Improve Clickbait Detection. “Humans and machines worked together to help train an artificial intelligence — AI — model that outperformed other clickbait detectors, according to researchers at Penn State and Arizona State University. In addition, the new AI-based solution was also able to tell the difference between clickbait headlines that were generated by machines — or bots — and ones written by people, they said.”
The Next Web: How social media dilutes scientific discoveries into clickbait. “Millions of Americans shape their ideas on complex and controversial scientific questions – things like personal genetic testing, genetically modified foods and their use of antibiotics – based on what they see on social media. Even many traditional news organizations and media outlets report incomplete aspects of scientific studies, or misinterpret the findings and highlight unusual claims. Once these items enter into the social media echo chamber, they’re amplified. The facts become lost in the shuffle of competing information, limited attention or both.”
TechCrunch: Facebook is clamping down on posts that shamelessly beg for your engagement. “A lot of crap gets shared on Facebook, but coming soon the volume may be a little less after Facebook made a move to penalize content that shamelessly begs people for engagement. The social network giant said today that it will penalize Page owners and people who resort to ‘engagement bait,’ which means posts that encourage users to like, comment or tag people in the comments section in order to gain wider visibility of their content.” YAY!
Consumerist: Facebook Cracking Down On Video Clickbait In The Newsfeed. “There are two kinds of video clickbait Facebook is going after: Stories that feature either fake video play buttons embedded in their imagery, or videos that only play a static image.”
TechCrunch: Facebook News Feed change demotes sketchy links overshared by spammers . “Technically, Facebook can’t suspend people’s accounts just for sharing 50-plus false, sensational or clickbaity news articles per day. It doesn’t want to trample anyone’s right to share. But there’s nothing stopping it from burying those links low in the News Feed so few people ever see them.”
Backchannel: Thousands of College Kids Are Powering a Clickbait Empire. “In the spring of 2015, the internet briefly became obsessed with the virility of the ‘dadbod.’ For a moment, the merits of the pudgy-middled male physique seemed to outweigh a six pack or chiseled biceps. That year, the Collins English Dictionary added the term ‘dadbod’ to its list of new words. ‘Hail to the average man,’ the fad seemed to suggest. Like all short-lived, much-loved internet phenomenon, the dadbod had to start somewhere, and in this case, it started as a story published by a 19-year-old college student, posted to an online platform called Odyssey.”
Yay! From Search Engine Roundtable: Google Calls Out Sites With Taboola Or Outbrain Links. “Nathan Johns, a relatively quiet search quality analysts in the Google Search department posted on Twitter that sites writing about fake news should ‘think twice’ about placing taboola or outbrain links on your site.” It isn’t clear this is an official Google position, but it’s good to see that SOMEONE affiliated with Google feels like this.
I wonder if this’ll include those junky Outbrain-type links? Publisher revenue would plummet. From The New York Times: Google Will Ban Websites That Host Fake News From Using Its Ad Service. “Google announced it would ban websites that peddle fake news from using its online advertising service, a decision that comes as concerns mount over the impact online hoaxes may have had on the presidential election.”
Oh thank goodness. Publishers are starting to rethink those horrible “around the Web” fakey/clickbait articles. “ChangeAdvertising.org analyzed the content ads on those 41 news websites and found that 61 percent came from advertisers or other prominent publishers. But 26 percent led to ‘clickbait’ sites that were covered in more ads and lower-quality recommendation widgets featuring sexually suggestive or interruptive images. Almost all of those sites, which appear to be paying for placement, then profiting from their own ads once people visit, hid their domain registrations.”
More depressing-but-important stuff from NPR: How Free Web Content Traps People In An Abyss Of Ads And Clickbait. “If you feel like Internet ads are more pervasive and invasive than ever before, you’re not alone. Author Tim Wu tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that the Web has gotten worse over the years, not better — and unrelenting ads are to blame.”
Like / Not Like: here’s How Facebook users rebel against clickbait. “People who feel misled are actively going back to the News Feed and removing their likes from stories, according to Facebook. That’s significant. It’s an extra step, an act of commission, one that takes time and thought. And it’s an interesting way users who lack other means to voice their displeasure have devised as a kind of stop-gap measure for fighting back.” Why would you click Like on something before you’ve read it?
Facebook’s war on fake news doesn’t seem to be going that well. “…thanks to new tactics and a healthy interest in the typically sensational stories they publish, fake news sites still enjoy widespread reach on Facebook, according to a BuzzFeed News analysis of post engagement data across nine top fake news sites. In many ways, it is the golden age of fake news. Easy access to publishing tools makes it easier than ever to create news sources meant to mislead. And social distribution channels give the stories published by these outlets a clear path to the masses. Facebook does, however, claim to be making headway overall.”