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Facebook Announces New Penalties for ‘Engagement Baiters’

Facebook on Monday announced a new initiative aimed at reducing the amount of “engagement bait” shared on its platform every day.

The social network giant said it will begin “penalizing” Page owners (and general users) who are found to be sharing such posts, which often encourage users to “Like, Comment, or Tag people in the Comments section” as a way of generating heightened visibility of said content. Two examples Facebook provided include posts asking users to “Share with friends to win a free trip,” or “Like if you’re an Aries” — which are clearly intended to encourage engagement, though ultimately to the benefit of the poster/Page owner.

“This tactic, known as ‘engagement bait,’ seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach,” Facebook said in its official blog post announcing the news, warning users that, as a result, “starting this week, we will begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait.”

What Happens Now?

Facebook announced the upcoming implementation of a “new tweak” to its Newsfeed algorithm, which will entail “stricter demotions” for Page owners and/or individual posters who partake of engagement bait tactics. The company noted that it will begin rolling out the new Page-level demotion algorithm over “the course of several weeks,” adding, as a courtesy to publishers, that it “gives them time to adapt and avoid inadvertently using engagement bait in their posts.”

At least for the foreseeable future, however, convicted engagement baiters can make a consistent effort to “engage in good behavior” (i.e., post less crap) as a means of reclaiming their original reach, Facebook noted.

The company also specified there are certain types of posts — those advertising a “missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips,” for example — which will be exempted from this clampdown.

Facebook’s latest move to crack down on engagement bait comes after the company announced back in May that it would begin down-ranking links to websites which, once clicked, inundate unwitting users with a barrage of advertisements.