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The term "clickbait" refers to any sort of underhanded, style-over-substance tactic used on webpages to garner more page visits, often from social-media websites. Clickbait tries to operate in a number of different ways, from posting emotionally pleasing but intellectually vacuous material, presenting an incomplete news article or video with a possibly deceptive title, using emotional appeals such as "You won't believe what happens when...", presenting sexually suggestive imagery,[note 1][note 2] posting a quiz to find out "Which _______ character are you?" (or other inane online quizzes whose only ostensible purpose is to stroke the quiz-taker's ego), or using provocative pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, tall tales or outright hoaxes. With the power of argumentum ad populum, social media becomes a very effective propagator of such nonsensical ideas. In addition, clickbait sites often re-hash trendy videos whose fame was over years ago.
- 1 Four things THEY don't want you to know about binge-clicking!!!
- 2 Astonishing COMMON EXAMPLES of Clickbait that can't be unseen
- 3 Gamergater comes across a SJW… you'll never BELIEVE what happens next…
- 4 This link will blow your mind
- 5 You won't believe these bonus comments
- 6 These citations are unbelievable
Four things THEY don't want you to know about binge-clicking!!!
Quality websites should value engagement with readers instead of empty attention-grabbing, because it is more respectful to readers and increases business value for the brand of a website. In contrast, clickbait makes a lot of quick money in the short term while failing to build up a reputable brand in the long term. If a headline contains a word like "surprising", "amazing", or "shocking" — you won't be surprised, amazed or shocked by the contents of the article.
Astonishing COMMON EXAMPLES of Clickbait that can't be unseen
Clickbait websites ostensibly serve as general news websites with coverage of both political events and entertainment as well, albeit modeled after tabloids (and even putting established tabloids like Daily Mail and National Enquirer to shame in the art of attracting suckers). Often, their headlines are misleading and politically slanted depending on the sites' target audiences. These websites intend to have their content shared en masse on social media sites.
One thing you never knew about clickbait
Most websites that generate clickbait were founded during the Web 2.0 era, with the rise of social media and user-generated content that increased incentive to create compelling-yet-shallow material for web consumption. However, the right-wing Drudge Report news aggregator, founded in 1998, was clickbait before clickbait was even a word. In 2005, the Huffington Post was launched as a left-wing competitor to Drudge. (In fact, Andrew Breitbart got his start working for both sites before founding his own, eponymous news/commentary website. While Breitbart.com has had its share of credibility issues, in all fairness it does not rely on clickbait-style headlines/content as much as other sites discussed here.)
What you need to know now about the NEWS
Although the conservative Daily Caller and liberal Huffington Post do have more sober, show-don't-pander headlines for its articles, those sites are guilty of using emotional manipulation to attract traffic. Both websites often post galleries of NSFW (though not exactly pornographic) photos of women that are filed under the entertainment sections yet often promoted on the front page. Additionally, Daily Caller has sometimes used explicitly racially charged headlines. One story was once titled "Black males are viciously beating people at random at the University of Illinois" before being retitled to the more neutral "Gang Of Men Is Viciously Beating People At Random At The University Of Illinois".
Scientists find CURE for cancer, baldness, and ALL THESE DISEASES
An example of yellow journalism, some news sources which report findings from scientific research may omit key details in order to produce particularly sensational headlines. One example of this is the ongoing trend of news articles omitting the words "in mice" in their headlines, a result which suggests that the target reader demographic of these articles are literally mice (rather than you, presumably a human). It's worth noting that most articles using such clickbait headlines eventually mention that the research findings are only applicable to mice, somewhere in their body text.
A Twitter account run by an actual scientist, @justsaysinmice, lightly mocks news articles (that are perhaps mocking their own audiences) by adding "in mice" to the end of clickbait headlines.
Gamergater comes across a SJW… you'll never BELIEVE what happens next…
In the Gamergate movement, the word "clickbait" has a somewhat different meaning. A formal definition hasn't yet been supplied, but would seem to be something like "any article, regardless of the headline, that criticizes sexism in gaming or the harassment of women and anyone who finds our methods disgusting among gamers". Or anything published by Gawker, anywhere, at any time.[note 3] It is presumed that the people writing the "clickbait" articles don't actually care about the subjects they're writing about.
You won't believe these bonus comments
- Such material could be called master bait
- Which sites like BuzzFeed often quite hypocritically do to attract thirsty male teens while preaching feminism elsewhere
- Although to be fair, Gawker is complete garbage, though; that's one thing Gamergaters and anti-GGers can both agree on.
These citations are unbelievable
- See the Wikipedia article on tall tale.
- Data Mining Reveals How Conspiracy Theories Emerge on Facebook. MIT Technology Review: March 18, 2014.
- My Top Six Reasons for Going All-Out Against Clickbait, Ridiculous List Articles and Other Viral DRECK – And #4 Will Pucker Your Sphincter!. Holes in the Foam. June 26, 2014.
- Henshaw, Robb. "Content Promotion vs. Clickbait: How to Avoid Destroying Trust & Traffic." Relevance.com: September 29, 2014.
- Twitter post on Oct. 17, then the article as of Oct. 18, 2014 via Wayback Machine
- Crowe, K., "Mice are not people: Fighting spin in medical science", CBC News.
- https://archive.today/T3ykb Gamergate wiki defining clickbait as "an article being only tangentially related to video games and the piece being used to push a political agenda." This would make an overwhelming number of editorials on all manner of topics "clickbait." Step it up Times.