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Thursday, April 10, 2014
Facebook Tries To Clean Up News Feed Spam

Facebook today announced a series of improvements to News Feed to reduce spammy stories.

Many of these stories are published by Pages that deliberately try and game News Feed to get more distribution than they normally would.

"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.

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.

The improvement Facebook is making today better detects these stories and helps ensure that they are not shown more prominently in News Feed than more relevant stories from friends and other Pages. The company said the update would not impact Pages that were trying to encourage discussion among their fans.

Facebook's updated News Feed will also also show less repeated content, where photos or videos are uploaded to Facebook over and over again.

Some stories in News Feed use inaccurate language or formatting to try and trick people into clicking through to a website that contains only ads or a combination of frequently circulated content and ads. By measuring how frequently people on Facebook who visit a link choose to like the original post or share that post with their friends, Faecbook says it has been able to better detect spammy links.

WhatsApp Deal cleared by FTC

Staying with Facebook, U.S. regulators have cleared its $19 billion acquisition of mobile messaging service WhatsApp, although the Federal Trade Commission warned the two Internet companies on Thursday that they must not backtrack on commitments to user privacy.

The FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a letter to the two companies on Thursday, said WhatsApp must adhere to its current privacy practices after the merger, including a promise not to use WhatsApp users' personal data for targeted ads.

"If the acquisition is completed and WhatsApp fails to honor these promises, both companies could be in violation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and, potentially, the FTC's order against Facebook," the letter from Jessica Rich, director of the consumer bureau, read.

WhatsApp allows mobile phone users to send each other messages. It stores users' mobile phone numbers, but unlike many online services, it does not collect user names, emails and other contact information.

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