Meta announces crackdown on watchbait in the video ecosystem

Meta watchbait

Videos created with watchbait tactics such as withholding key information or sensationalizing content, to experience reduced distribution on Meta platforms. Further, Meta releases guidelines on what constitutes as watchbait.

Watchbait tactics in the video ecosystem have always been negatively received by users and also harm the overall health of quality content created by creators and publishers. To encourage accurate information on the post or video content that set appropriate expectations, Meta has announced the functionalities of a system that detects watchbait.

Meta shares that it uses a system that detects watchbait holistically across a video post and if detected, reduces its distribution. Videos that are considered watchbait may not be recommended to viewers and/or may receive a limited ranking. Repeatedly posting watchbait may result in that Page’s overall distribution being reduced.

The preferred method for video creators and publishers going forward would be to generate distribution with original, authentic behaviour and high-quality videos, and not baity tactics.

Also Read: Meta announces brand suitability updates for advertisers

The company shares examples of video that may receive reduced distribution:

  • Withholding: omitting key information to create an arbitrary curiosity gap to entice users to watch the video to understand the full context
  • Sensationalizing: using exaggeration and extreme language to entice users to watch the video
  • Misleading: creating misleading expectations or deceiving viewers about the video content or “payoff”
  • People expect the title, caption, text overlay, and thumbnail of a video to convey relatively accurately what the video is about; this helps them decide if they want to spend time watching it. For example, these titles withhold key information, making it hard for people to know what the video is about and bait them into viewing the video to find out: His Reaction Was Priceless!! 😂😂 – THIS IS THE WORST WAY TO WAKE UP!! 😂 – And then his GF did this!!!
  • Exaggerated, sensationalized titles or captions result in feelings of disappointment or deception once the video is viewed. For example, these titles sensationalize the video content and leave viewers who engage with the post with a feeling of being let down: Absolutely mind-blowing details in the latest recipe from Kai! – Your bestie just sent a crazy message to your girlfriend! 😰😰😰- SHOCKING weather phenomenon could explode your plans!!!
  • Misleading video posts wherein thumbnails, titles, descriptions, or other parts of the video suggest something happens in the video that actually does not. Misleading videos can make viewers wait artificially long for some “payoff” and often include staged or scripted content that is portrayed as “reality” or “factual.”

Meta outlines genuine ways for improving video distribution strategy:

  • Use informative headlines and captions so people get a clear understanding of your video.
  • Use thumbnails that are actual clips from the video content and not photoshopped or cropped images that don’t appear in the posted video.
  • Add your own voice to help drive the genuine conversation. This helps establish originality and authenticity in your content and enables people to decide how they want to spend their time with your post.


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