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Facebook squashes marketers' 'like'-bait in News Feed update

Say goodbye to spammy stories in your News Feed -- or at least the social network's definition of spammy stories. Marketers may beg to differ.

Facebook defines "like-bait" content as spam. Facebook

Facebook said Thursday that it has once again massaged the formula that promotes or ignores content, in an effort to get rid of "spammy" stories in News Feed.

The changes specifically affect misleading links, request-for-like stories (aka like-bait), and reshared content. Ultimately, they're designed to penalize Pages and marketers who attempt to manufacture the spread of their content either by soliciting likes and comments, or by trying to pull a bait-and-switch with links that direct people to Web sites that are primarily ads.

Facebook's attack on spam follows previous changes to the News Feed such as downplaying memes. All have been made in the name of improving News Feed's quality for the average member. The alterations, however, have not gone over well with many marketers, who've noticed that with each change their Page updates reach a noticeably smaller percentage of their followers.

In theory, Facebook's latest adjustments protect people from spam, but marketers will certainly take issue with the social network's definition of like-baiting.

"'Like-baiting' is when a post explicitly asks News Feed readers to like, comment, or share the post in order to get additional distribution beyond what the post would normally receive," Facebook said. "People often respond to posts asking them to take an action, and this means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed."

Not anymore. With the News Feed adjustments, Facebook will detect these kinds of stories and prevent them from getting widely circulated. The social network said, however, that the update won't affect Pages that are genuinely encouraging decision.

The statement may do little to reassure marketers, a bunch that has grown increasingly vocal about their displeasure with Facebook. At the end of March, Web and mobile food-ordering service Eat24 penned a breakup letter to the social network encapsulating, with a bit of humor, many of the frustrations that marketers have with Facebook.