Fighting Engagement Bait on Facebook


Facebook says it is getting tough in ‘engagement baiting’, the spammy posts that goad people into interacting with likes, shares, comments, and other actions. For example, “LIKE this if you’re an Aries!”

This tactic, known as “engagement bait,” seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach, write Henry Silverman, Operations Integrity Specialist and Lin Huang, Engineer, on Newsroom Facebook.


So, starting this week, Facebook will begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait.

The writers say to help Facebook foster more authentic engagement, “teams at Facebook have reviewed and categorized hundreds of thousands of posts to inform a machine learning model that can detect different types of engagement bait. Posts that use this tactic will be shown less in News Feed.”

Additionally, over the coming weeks, Facebookwill begin implementing stricter demotions for Pages that systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach in News Feed. “We will roll out this Page-level demotion over the course of several weeks to give publishers time to adapt and avoid inadvertently using engagement bait in their posts. Moving forward, we will continue to find ways to improve and scale our efforts to reduce engagement bait,” said the Facebook team.

“Posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips, will not be adversely impacted by this update. Instead, we will demote posts that go against one of our key News Feed values — authenticity. Similar to our other recent efforts to demote clickbait headlines and links to low-quality web page experiences, we want to reduce the spread of content that is spammy, sensational, or misleading in order to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook.”

Perhaps this will bring many back to Facebook, yours truly whose engagement in Facebook social media has been limited to a few hours a week instead of per day.  Engagement baiting and other spammy practices in the newsfeed led me to find other sources to better use my online time.

How will this impact Pages?

Facebook says publishers and other businesses that use engagement bait tactics in their posts should expect their reach on these posts to decrease. Meanwhile, Pages that repeatedly share engagement bait posts will see more significant drops in reach.

The social network giant recommends page Admins to continue to focus on posting relevant and meaningful stories that do not use engagement bait tactics. Learn more about engagement bait and how to avoid using it here.