Social media giant Facebook has increasingly been moving towards more direct moderation of content posted to the site. After numerous scandals involving Facebook Live, a video streaming component of the desktop website and app, the company is working overtime to add new moderators and improve their detection tools. Since May of this year the company has actively been recruiting new moderation staff to police content on the fly, with the eventual goal to add 10,000 additional moderators. This month the company launched Facebook Kids, a chat feature for users 13 and younger that enables parents to limit who can contact their children.
Now the company is turning its attention towards content that baits users into liking or sharing posts to help generate traffic. Facebook’s new policy will target posts that violate what it calls “engagement baiting.” This includes scam contests that claim users who like a post will win a prize alongside simple self-promotion of content by begging users to like and share posts.
Content that violates the new policy will be demoted, preventing it from showing up across user newsfeeds to defeat the artificial interest begging for likes or shares generates. Likewise, accounts that repeatedly break the rules will be subject to punishment. While Facebook did not reveal the exact number of second chances, accounts that continually bend the rules will be subject to both temporary and permanent bans.
While there is obviously some concern that the new policy could stifle free discussion on the website and harm legitimate users, Facebook’s moderating staff will have some degree in judgement when applying demotions or bans. According to Facebook, legitimate posts that are requesting help, recommendations, or advice won’t be accused of breaking the guidelines. This means, for example, that in the event of a missing person, users are free to promote and share a post outlining details in an effort to alert the public. It’s unclear if other seemingly benign content that uses behavior similar to engagement baiting, such as calls for donations by private groups, will avoid the ban. Facebook made an FAQ available through the News Feed that offers examples of acceptable and ban-worthy content.
Facebook says their goal is to increase the level of “authenticity” on the website, bringing it back to its social media roots of connected users. Facebook plans to target click-bait articles and other vapid web content designed around generating ad revenue as well.