With an headline style called a "curiosity gap," news aggregator Upworthy can take mundane subject matter and word them in such a way to generate tremendous amounts of traffic, attention and sharing; however, as The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer explains, the headline style (now being copied by pretty much everyone else) is only half of the equation:
In August, a Facebook corporate blog post hinted that the algorithm that controlled the sites News Feed was changing slightly, such that stories that people did not scroll down far enough to see can reappear near the top [...] if the stories are still getting lots of likes and comments.
It sounds like a little change, but its hard to overstate the importance of the News Feed. The feed is what you see when you log into Facebook.com; its essentially the homepage of the site, and it changes for every user. What dictates how it looks is the elusive News Feed algorithm, a program that decides not only which statuses, photos, and news stories should display, but how many of each there will be. And a traffic jump of the size Warzel reported could only come with a change in the News Feed algorithm.
[...] For the past two months, traffic has been surging to news publishers. Facebook dwarfs Twitter--and every other social network--such that an algorithmic change like this quickly makes it the largest referrer to most news sites. A programming change is all it takes to remind publishers whos boss.
There's also an Upworthy-style Headline Generator.
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