You can usually count on a few different kinds of posts when you log onto Facebook. You’ll have your share of updates from friends and family that may or may be of interest to you. You’ll have a few paid posts peppered throughout that, hopefully, somewhat appeal to your interests.

And then, for some reason, your weird cousin or friend from high school decided to share a post that is just a video or meme begging for engagement by saying “LIKE if you agree” or “Share with ten friends for a chance to win!” Facebook is annoying enough as it is, but those kinds of posts, dubbed “engagement bait,” are just obnoxious enough to make you want to log off.

That’s what Facebook seems to be concerned with because they’ve just announced that this week they will begin demoting individual posts that use engagement bait.

To help us 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.

The tech giant also said they’re going to be rolling out stricter demotions for Facebook pages that repeatedly use engagement bait to goose their numbers and reach. They’re giving publishers who use these kinds of tactics fair warning to change their ways before then. They will also avoid demoting posts that ask for shares when the information is meant to help or ask for recommendations. So when a person goes missing or there’s a cause worth raising money for, users will be able to ask for engagement without fear of demotion. At least in theory.

One concern that the new rules create is where Facebook will draw the line when it comes to engagement bait. Plenty of reputable publishers dole out requests for users to engage with their content in order to help go viral or just increase their audience. The dark side of this new plan is that Facebook could demote otherwise solid content publishers under the guise of engagement bait violations in order to force them to consider paying for wider reach.

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. Page Admins should continue to focus on posting relevant and meaningful stories that do not use engagement bait tactics. 

In other words, if you take Facebook’s efforts at face value, then what they’re doing is noble and meant to improve the user experience. The flip side is that it’s entirely possible Facebook sees this as a way to strong-arm more money out of those looking for engagement honestly while blaming those who do it dishonestly. It just depends on what you think of the company, we suppose, and their stated goals.

Once you decide how you feel, ask your Facebook friends to SHARE IF YOU AGREE!

[Facebook]

About Sean Keeley

A graduate of Syracuse University, Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse related things for SB Nation, Neighborhoods.com, Curbed Seattle and many other outlets. He currently lives in Chicago.