Facebook or click-bait: Which is the bigger villain?
Facebook announced this week it plans to weed out click-bait — posts that sensationalize facts to get users to click for the "whole story," which often doesn't deliver.
The announcement came a week after Facebook began labeling fictionalized posts from sites like The Onion as "satire." In the press release, Facebook said it was making the change in response to user outcry that many posts made on the network aren't "relevant."
Slate applauded Facebook's decision, even admitting to employing click-bait posts to up readership.
"This should come as a welcome change for just about everyone," Will Oremus wrote. "Internet advertising and social media have ushered in a free-for-all marketplace in which the grabbiest headlines tend to win the readers—even if the ensuing content doesn’t deliver on their promise."
"The fact remains that what comes through Facebook is the site’s version of what you should be reading — and what you need to know about the world — not your version," Gigaom's Matthew Ingram pointed out.
UK blogger Mary Hamilton is concerned about the change's impact on breaking news posts.
"News is fast, and Facebook is prioritising (sic) slow," Hamilton wrote. "One of the fundamental problems with a few large companies controlling the primary means of mass digital distribution is that media organisations (sic) who want to be widely read have to change their work to fit those distribution channels."
Whatever the implications mean for publishers, Washington Post reporter Caitlin Dewey says the decision could hurt Facebook users more than it hopes to help them.
"Facebook may be a benevolent overlord, sure, and this change could improve News Feed. But when all is said and done, it is still an overlord," Dewey wrote. "That may make Facebook a more dangerous villain than even the most shameless purveyors of click-bait."
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