Facebook plans to kill ‘like and share’ spam from News Feed

18 Dec 2017

Facebook on mobile. Image: weedezign/Shutterstock

Many Facebook page admins are likely to be squirming with news that they might find themselves demoted for promoting spam tactics.

Facebook is constantly policing content on its platform, particularly with the rise of fake news. However, it is now targeting another practice, which is less sinister but nonetheless annoying.

According to the company’s most recent blogpost, this target is ‘engagement bait’, a post that uses clickbait-style tactics to get people to like and share a particular brand or page’s post in a bid to artificially boost its numbers.

A typical example includes a page offering you a poll with four options, with each answer being a different Facebook reaction.

This artificial gaming of the system has finally reached breaking point, in Facebook’s view. From today (18 December), it will demote posts in the News Feed that engage in this practice.

“People have told us that they dislike spammy posts on Facebook that goad them into interacting with likes, shares, comments and other actions,” the social network said.

To put greater pressure on publishers, Facebook has also said that in a few weeks’ time, if admins persist in posting engagement bait, it will demote all of their posts.

This marks yet another algorithm change to the platform after last August’s post claimed that it would tackle the rise of video spam, which was created in part due to its aim to promote longer videos to curry favour with advertisers.


Examples of the kind of tag and comment baiting that Facebook is looking to clamp down on. Image: Facebook

However, it comes on the back of an unexpected admission by Facebook on the state of the mental health of its users.

In a blogpost over the weekend (15 December), the company’s research department admitted that its platform can make you feel pretty bad at times, but that it also aided mental wellbeing.

The piece was in response to criticism laid at the feet of Facebook by one of its former executives, Chamath Palihapitiya, who recently said it was “destroying how society works”.

The crux of Facebook’s argument was that someone’s mental health might be affected in a bad way if they passively use the social network without interacting with anyone.

Facebook on mobile. Image: weedezign/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic