Facebook Updates News Feed Algorithm to Reduce Sensational Health Claims

Facebook updated its news feed algorithm to reduce the reach of posts making sensational or exaggerated health claims.

Facebook is also reducing the reach of posts promoting products or services related to those health claims.

Both of these updates were rolled out last month.

“People come together on Facebook to talk about, advocate for, and connect around things like nutrition, fitness and health issues. But in order to help people get accurate health information and the support they need, it’s imperative that we minimize health content that is sensational or misleading.”

Facebook will determine which posts to reduce by identifying commonly used phrases and predicting which posts might include sensational health claims or promotion of products with health-related claims.

Those individual posts will then be shown lower in the news feed. Facebook is not targeting entire pages with this update.

How will this impact page reach?

Facebook says most pages won’t see significant changes to their reach as a result of this update.

Clearly, pages that regularly post about sensational health claims will see their reach reduced if they continue to publish that type of content.

I can also see this impacting pages selling nutritional supplements and health & wellness products.

When it comes to reducing the reach of posts promoting products and services using health-related claims, Facebook didn’t say the claims had to be sensational in nature.

Here’s what is stated in the announcement:

“For the second update, we consider if a post promotes a product or service based on a health-related claim — for example, promoting a medication or pill claiming to help you lose weight.”

So a supplement store may see their reach reduced for posts about fat burners, while posts about protein powder might not be impacted at all.

Facebook offers the following advice to pages:

“Pages should avoid posts about health that exaggerate or mislead people and posts that try to sell products using health-related claims. If a Page stops posting this content, their posts will no longer be affected by this change.”

This update is part of Facebook’s ongoing effort to minimize low-quality health content.