As Facebook struggles with a new public relations crisis following a recent series of investigative reports on Facebook files, the company is also seeking to provide greater transparency in its processes and monitor the way its systems decide what people see in their news on a daily basis.
Earlier this year, Facebook posted a new explanation of how the News Feed algorithm works, covering key ranking elements that dictate reach. And today Facebook shared another review of the distribution, this time looking at the types of posts it seems to restrict in the Feed, which don’t violate its rules, necessarily, but will see less reach, for a variety of reasons.
As Facebook explained:
“Our content distribution guidelines describe some of the types of content that are distributed in the News Feed. Our measures to reduce problematic content in the News Feed are based on our commitment to the values of responding to people’s direct feedback, encouraging publishers to invest in high-quality content, and fostering a safer community. ”
The list doesn’t actually offer an amazing new insight, but it provides additional context for considering how Facebook approaches content constraints.
Here is the main focus on potentially misleading and problematic content, with Facebook seeking to reduce the reach of posts that fall into these categories:
- Ad farms -Posts that contain links to pages filled with ads, designed solely to increase traffic
- Clickbait links – Fraudulent posts designed to attract clicks
- Comments that are likely to be logged in or hidden – Facebook commented predicts that people are likely to hide or report, based on past insights
- Bait for engagement – Posts that explicitly require engagement (e.g., sharing, commenting, liking) for purposes other than just an invitation to action
- Links to suspicious disguise domains – These are domains that disguise their destination by disguising the name of the landing page or web address, trying to circumvent Facebook’s review processes
- Links to websites that require unnecessary user information – This includes websites that request personal information before displaying content
- Low quality browsing experience – Websites with errors or poor display on mobile devices
- Low quality comments – Facebook’s system will reduce comments that do not contain words (ie only the username tag) and / or cut and paste text blocks
- Low quality events – Facebook will reduce the reach of incomplete lists of events or from pages that show signs of inauthentic behavior
- Low quality videos – Videos posted as “live streams” that Facebook predicts are static, animated, repetitive, poll-only, or pre-recorded, as well as static images set as “videos” without dynamic sound
- The pages are predicted to be spam – Pages that Facebook predicts might work malware and / or identity theft
- Sensationalist health content and commercial health announcements – Including claims about “miracle cures” and posts trying to sell products or services based on health claims
All of this makes sense, and the impacts of such would be limited to those who manage legitimate profiles and websites – although it’s interesting to note that Facebook will penalize reaching for sites that provide a bad user experience.
It is also worth noting the ‘engaged bait’ rule, which some people have inadvertently broken in the past.
According to Facebook, the engagement in this context refers to:
“Posts that explicitly require engagement (such as votes, sharing, comments, tags, likes, or other reactions) for purposes other than a specific call to action (such as seeking help in finding missing persons or property, raising money, or sharing a petition) on the Facebook platform. For example, this does not include posts asking people to get involved to show that they support or disapprove of the problem, or to share time-sensitive information about natural disasters and life-threatening events.”
Facebook says user feedback has shown that users don’t appreciate posts like this, which encourages them to interact by liking, sharing, commenting, and taking other actions on posts.
This also applies tangentially to contest promotions, and Facebook’s rules state that:
“Friends’ personal timelines and links may not be used to administer promotions (e.g.,” share on your input timeline “or” share on a friend’s timeline for additional entries “and” tag your friends in this post “are not allowed).”
Those who run tenders or engagement-oriented promotions should ensure that they are very clear on all of these elements.
In addition, Facebook will also degrade content from domains with limited source content, those who have shared fact-verified misinformation in the past, and newspaper articles without transparent authorship (such as the author’s name attached to the post).
Facebook will also limit the reach of content from domains and pages that have a large ‘click gap’:
“Links to websites that receive a particularly disproportionate amount of their traffic directly from Facebook in relation to the amount of traffic that websites receive from the rest of the internet.”
In other words, sites that are likely trying to outwit the Facebook algorithm through the tactic of sending spam, while Facebook also limits the reach of posts by people who ‘hypershare in groups’.
“Posts by people we anticipate using multiple accounts to post in groups at very high frequencies. These posts have a high correlation with spam reports and provide high-reach content to irrelevant audiences who do not want to see this content. ”
So Facebook has a number of ways to catch spammers, while for legitimate publishers, the only real concern is ensuring transparency in access to content, not using duplicate content on your site.
Which, if you’re legitimate, shouldn’t be a concern, but let’s be clear, these are the types of actions that can reduce your reach on Facebook.
The last element of Facebook’s distribution guidelines looks at community security and limits the reach of posts that may be offensive or otherwise harmful to users.
This includes content that is vulnerable to violations of Facebook’s community standards and links to landing pages with sexual and / or shocking content.
Again, most of this is what you would expect, there are no big discoveries here. But it provides even more context on how Facebook decides which types of posts should have less reach and how it can restrict distribution based on different parameters.
Again, legitimate users and sites generally should not have to worry about these rules as they clearly apply to illegitimate and fraudulent use. However, the specifics should be noted and the different rules regarding publication should be taken into account.
I mean, Facebook already limits the reach of posts on a page to a single-digit percentage of your audience, so the last thing you need is to inadvertently break its rules and see even less reach.
It is worth looking at and considering your approach and making sure that your content and process do not conflict with the different parameters of Facebook.
You can view the full Facebook guidelines for content distribution here.
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