Facebook Attacks Viral Headlines Using Weird Trick, You Won't Believe What Happens Next

If you use social media at all these days, you've undoubtedly noticed the rampant proliferation of viral headlines. From advertising "Local woman loses 55 lbs of belly fat using one weird trick," to Upworthy's self-righteous spewing twaddle "This man found 3,654 war orphans, 62 kittens, and Jesus at Arby's -- You Won't Believe What Happened Next," clickbait linkspam abounds across the Internet. Now, Facebook is itself stepping in to lend a hand -- and hopefully turn off the spigot.

Facebook is going to do this in two different ways. First, it's going to crack down on headlines that give limited information but encourage clicks. The idea is that if people actually engage in substantive discussion on a topic (or share and discuss the story on their own pages), the content is substantive. If, on the other hand, they simply spam the "Like" button, the content is probably a waste.

In other words, this is supposed to keep a 15 photo collage of kittens from competing with the latest news from Ferguson or the Middle East.

I hate everything about this image. It makes me twitch just looking at it.

To perform this, Facebook will also monitor how much time you spend looking at a story off of Facebook. If you click on a link then promptly go back to FB, it's likely clickbait. If you actually spend time on the other page, it probably isn't. (If you're thinking that sounds a bit creepy, so are we).

The other approach Facebook will use is to monitor whether you actually share a story headline or just an embedded link a photo caption. Stories shared complete with headline (by clicking on the URL) are more likely to be the kind of stories that drive engagement.

I'm of two minds on this one. On the one hand, I hate websites like Upworthy with the passion of a thousand burning suns. On the other, I'm not thrilled with FB mining even more data from its users to make decisions about what content does and doesn't get seen. What's your take?