Math of Clickbait

Felix Salmon stellt in einem superinteressanten Posting über mein derzeitiges Lieblings-Thema Clickbait eine Formel für Viralität auf und kommt zum logischen Schluss, dass solcherlei Müll doomed to fail ist: Facebook spült uns derzeit vor allem minderwertigen Scheiß in die Timeline, da der minderwertige Scheiß per Clickbait die Statistiken für interessante Inhalte verfälscht und da es für Facebook überlebenswichtig ist, dass sie den Leuten tatsächlich interessante Inhalte servieren, werden sie Upworthyviralnova9gagschleckyamywhatever schon bald Facebook-Juice entziehen, ganz ähnlich wie Google in seinem Panda Update 2011. Jede Wette darauf.

The key number here is S·F·C, or shareability times friends times clickbaitiness. In our model, that’s 0.01 * 100 * 0.1 = 10%. If you increase any of those numbers — if you make people more likely to share your article, or more likely to click on the headline — then you’re going to increase the virality of the piece. […]

We know that Upworthy spends a lot of time optimizing for maximum S and maximum C. It more or less invented the “curiosity gap” headilne, for instance, which turns out to be a great way to boost C. In other words, Upworthy is maximizing the variables under its own control. […]

Facebook assumes that people click on exactly the material that they want to click on, and that if it serves up a lot of clickbaity curiosity-gap headlines, then it’s giving its users what they want. Whereas in reality, those headlines are annoying. Curiosity-gap headlines are a bit like German sentences: you don’t know what they mean until you get to the end, which means that the only way to find out what your friend is saying is to click on the headline and serve up another pageview to Upworthy. (Or ViralNova, or Distractify, or whomever.) It’s basically a way of hacking real-world friendships for profit, and there’s no way Facebook is going to allow it to continue indefinitely.

Viral Math