While Facebook is experiencing a new PR crisis in light of the recent Facebook files research series, the company also tries to provide more transparency in its processes and oversee how its systems decide what people see in their news feed every day.
Earlier this year, Facebook published a new commentary on how its newsfeed algorithm works, which covers important ranking elements that achieve reach. And today Facebook shared another distribution overviewThis time we look at the types of posts that limit it in the feed, which will not necessarily violate the rules, but will see less reach for various reasons.
As explained by Facebook:
“Our content distribution guidelines describe some of the types of content that receive reduced distribution in News Feed. Our efforts to reduce problematic content in News Feed are rooted in our commitment to the values of responding to direct feedback from people, encouraging publishers to invest in high quality content, and promoting a safer community. ”
The listing does not really offer a great new insight, but it does provide a more context to think about how Facebook approaches content restrictions.
The main focus here is on potentially misleading and problematic content, with Facebook seeking to reduce the reach of posts that fall into these categories:
- Advertising Farms -Postings that link to ad pages, purely designed to increase traffic
- Clickbait links – Misleading posts designed to attract clicks
- Comments that are likely to be reported or hidden – Comments on Facebook predicts people are likely to hide or report, based on previous insight
- Engaged bait – Posts that explicitly request engagement (e.g. shares, comments, preferences) for purposes other than a specific call to action
- Links to suspected covered domains – These are domains that disguise their destination by hiding the name of the landing page or web address, bypassing Facebook’s review processes
- Links to sites that request unnecessary user data – This includes sites that request personal information before viewing content
- Low quality browser experiences Websites with bugs or poor mobile screen
- Low quality comments The Facebook system will downgrade comments that contain no words (ie just a username), and / or text blocks that have been cut and pasted
- Low quality events – Facebook reduces the reach of event entries that are incomplete or come from pages that showed signs of awkward behavior
- Low quality videos – Videos posted as ‘live broadcasts’, which Facebook predicts to be static, animated, looped, recorded only or pre-recorded, as well as static images uploaded as ‘videos’ without dynamic sound
- Pages are predicted to be spam – Pages that predict Facebook may work malware and / or phishing scams
- Sensational health content and commercial health posts – Inclusive allegations of “miracle cures”, and jobs trying to sell products or services based on health-related claims
All of this makes sense, and the consequences will be limited for those who operate legitimate profiles and sites – although it is interesting to note that Facebook will penalize the reach of pages with a poor mobile experience.
It is also worth noting the ‘engagement bait’ rule, some of which have failed by accident in the past.
As per Facebookengagement bait, in this context, relates to:
Posts that explicitly request involvement (such as votes, shares, comments, labels, preferences or other responses) for purposes other than a specific call to action (such as seeking help to find missing people or property, raise money or share a petition) on the Facebook platform. This does not include, for example, posts asking people to get involved to show whether or not they support a cause, or to share time-sensitive information about natural disasters and life-threatening events.”
Facebook says that user feedback has indicated that users do not like posts like this, which leads them to interact by liking posts, sharing, commenting and taking other steps.
It is also tangentially related to competition promotions, with Facebook’s rules stating that:
‘Personal timelines and friend links may not be used to administer promotions (for example:’ share on your timeline to subscribe ‘or’ share on your friend’s timeline to get additional entries ‘, and’ tag your friends in this post to enter ‘is not allowed).”
The contests or promotions that focus on engagement should ensure that all of these elements are very clear.
In addition, Facebook will also downgrade content from domains with limited original content, those that have shared misinformation in the past, and news articles without transparent authorship (such as the name of the author at the post).
Facebook will also restrict access to content from domains and pages with a large ‘click gap’:
‘Links to sites that receive a particularly disproportionate amount of traffic directly from Facebook compared to the amount of traffic the sites receive from the rest of the internet.”
In other words, Pages that probably want to try to play the Facebook algorithm through spammy tactics, while Facebook also limits the reach of posts from people who ‘share in groups’.
“Placements from people we predict use multiple accounts to place in groups at a very high frequency. These posts have a high correlation with spam reports and offer a piece of content with a wide reach to irrelevant audiences who do not want to see this content.
Facebook therefore has different ways of detecting spammers, while for legitimate publishers it is the only real source to ensure transparency in your content approach and not duplicate content on your site.
Which, if you are legal, should not be a concern in any case, but by the way, these are the types of actions that can reduce your reach on Facebook.
The last element of Facebook’s distribution guidelines looks at community safety and limiting the reach of posts that may be offensive or otherwise harmful to users.
This includes content that is about to violate Facebook’s community standards and links to landing pages that contain sexual and / or shocking content.
Again, most of these are what you would expect; here are no major revelations. But it does provide more context on how Facebook decides what type of postings should be less targeted, and how it can limit distribution based on different parameters.
Again, legitimate users and pages should mostly not worry about these rules, as they clearly apply to illegal and fraudulent use. But it’s worth noting the details and the different rules regarding your placement.
I mean, Facebook already limits the reach of Page Posts to single-digit percentages of your audience, so the last thing you need is to accidentally break its rules and see even less reach.
It’s worth checking out and considering your approach, and making sure your content and process do not fail the various parameters of Facebook.
You can see the full content distribution guidelines on Facebook here.