Facebook Updates News Feed Algorithm to Demote Misleading Health Claims

Facebook is getting tough on Pages that make misleading health claims, after confirming recent algorithm changes. Facebook said: “We consider it 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.”

On the face of things, the change will help to prevent spammy posts but may impact influencers who promote such products.

This could mean that people promoting weight loss teas or lollipops could be massively stunted, or even the vegan/keto/whatever weight loss accounts. So health brands need to take note, as do brands who partner with influencers that partner with these kinds of brands—even if they have a huge follower base.

As explained by Facebook:

“Last month we made two ranking updates to reduce the reach of posts with exaggerated or sensational health claims and posts attempting to sell products or services based on health-related claims. For the first update, we consider if a post about health exaggerates or misleads – for example, making a sensational claim about a miracle cure.  For the second, 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.” 

The update is a good one for Facebook – with more and more people relying on it for their news distribution and information needs, confusing, false claims like these can only make matters worse, and such claims are detectable by Facebook’s systems.

“We’ve handled this in a similar way to how we’ve previously reduced low-quality content like clickbait: by identifying phrases that are commonly used in these posts to predict which might include sensational health claims or promotion of products with health-related claims, and then showing these lower in News Feed.”