Facebook says it’s cracking down on links that send users to sketchy, ad-filled websites

on May10

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook

Facebook’s News Feed algorithm has a new target: Links that send people to crummy websites full of ads.

Facebook regularly tweaks its News Feed algorithm, the software that determines what things you see in your feed, and said in a blog post Wednesday that its latest update will crack down on lousy links. They may look fine in the feed, but they send people to pages “covered in disruptive, shocking, sexual ads,” according to Greg Marra, a product manager for Facebook.

In the past, the company has cracked down on click bait by trying to identify patterns in headlines or by watching which posts people click and then immediately abandon.

In this case, Facebook is actually using a computer model to scan the contents of webpages when users share them on Facebook to determine if they’re spammy. Facebook usually scans webpages to pull in metadata like an image or a story headline. Now, Marra says, the company will scan the page to see if it has any real substance at all or is just full of ads.

Links that don’t pass Facebook’s muster will be pushed down in News Feed and can’t be promoted as part of a Facebook ad campaign.

“This is one of the first times we’re actually using information from the experience that people will have once they click something to help inform the ranking in News Feed,” Marra said.

Facebook routinely makes efforts to clean up the Feed, including tweaks to fight click bait and, most recently, other updates to fight the spread of false news.

The updated algorithm will start rolling out Wednesday.

By Kurt Wagner, Recode.net.

CNBC’s parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Recode’s parent Vox, and the companies have a content-sharing arrangement.

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