SAN FRANCISCO -- The headline in your Facebook news feed promised something heartwarming: a spirited octogenarian and a college student finding true friendship, perhaps. But click and you're greeted with a barrage of spammy ads and very little text.
Facebook will start cracking down on links to these types of "low-quality" web pages, it announced Wednesday. It's part of the company's plan to show people "fewer misleading posts, and more informative posts."
What makes a site low quality? Facebook is starting with the ratio of ads to actual content. A page with too many ads and not enough original text or images is considered spam. If a site's ads are "disruptive, shocking, or malicious," Facebook will make sure fewer people can see and click on it.
The links aren't being banned - that is, if you post one it will still appear on your wall - but their news feed ranking will drop and they will be seen by far fewer people if anyone at all.
Facebook will, however, ban these pages from buying ad space on the site.
For companies worried their traffic will drop, Facebook offered a few recommendations. They should keep the number of ads on a page in check, though Facebook doesn't say specifically how many ads is excessive. A site may be flagged If its ads contain overly sexual, violent or scary images. The same goes for ads that are selling illegal products or contain spyware or malware, or any page with too many pop-up and interstitial ads.
The changes will happen over the next few months, and Facebook says it could mean a boost in traffic for publishers that produce quality content.
The company has been on a tear lately with efforts to crack down on fake news. It worked with journalists ahead of France's presidential election to try to stop false stories from spreading. It removed 30,000 fake accounts that it said were spreading deceptive content about the election. And last month, Facebook released a paper detailing how it was combating propaganda. It even added instructions to help Facebook users spot shady news stories themselves.
This latest push is directed less at people trying to spread false information, and more at sites just trying to make a buck.
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