Essentially, Facebook is looking at the amount of time users spend reading an article they found on Facebook to determine if a post is clickbait. An FB post that users click through and stay on the article is deemed valuable; a post that users click through and quickly jump back to Facebook is more likely to get flagged as clickbait. In other words, Facebook now values time spent engaged in a story over unique pageviews.
Facebook's new policy reflects a growing trend away from the pageview as the viral currency. Sites likeMedium, Upworthy and data collection firm Chartbeat have already started measuring the value of content according to time spent consuming it, coining fancy new metrics like "engagement time," "attention minutes," or just "total time reading."
A writer for The Awl points out killing the pageview isn't the same thing as killing clickbait; Facebook's changes will just give marketers a new system to try and game.
"If you've ever seen a headline over a YouTube embed with an appeal to stick around until a certain point in a video, or a post that implores you to stick around for a particular list item ... then you've already seen some of these strategies in action. You know what else takes a long time? Quizzes. Games. The possibilities are terrifying and endless."
In addition to the clickbait crackdown, Facebook is also prioritizing posts which use the company's link sharing feature over those which simply embed links in the body of their post. Facebook is planning to gradually roll out both of those changes over the next few months.
This video contains an image from Getty Images.