A rising phenomenon in the 21st century that is potentially undermining the validity of information and credibility of professions such as journalism. Clickbait. But what is it? Well, it is exactly the thing you possibly fell for by clicking on this article; a hyperbolic or entirely misleading title that is used to draw the reader to click and scan an article with the hope of satisfying the reason they viewed the page to begin with. Another example that is far less deceptive would be the title “You would not believe the magic secret that makes doctors feel useless” only to find a short recommendation at the bottom of the page suggesting more sleep.
So, why is this all relevant? Clickbait is highly relevant for many reasons, firstly by manipulating people’s curiosity, it has been shown that online scams are on the rise. By taking advantage of a situation scammers can steal and sell your data or lure you into other purchases such as a false charity. For example, following Kobe Bryant’s death claims of ‘unseen footage’ circulated the web but when one went to such a site, they were unknowingly becoming the product.
This is an effective method of driving traffic to a website for profit maximisation, as such news firms similarly aspire to adopt such methods. During the 2016 U.S election campaign the media was filled with headline claims that ‘Trump colludes with Putin” but a short sentence somewhere near the end of the article would acknowledge that ‘no official proof has yet been discovered of this claim’ in order to avoid legal action.
This has two major impacts, firstly the rise of sensationalism creates the risk of people accepting false information as they could be too lazy to read the entire article, and secondly it blurs the line between news and social media which undermines the credibility of journalism. The quality of information slips and it can exacerbate the polarisation of society, whereby people accept headlines as gospel. Without being fully informed people often make assumptions that can be harmful, as such I hope you consider the validity of the information you see in headlines and are cautious to visit dramatic websites that claim miracles as you put yourself at risk.
*DISCLAIMER* I in no way know any dramatic and damaging secrets regarding RHS that can be exposed. This was simply a light-hearted way of trying to demonstrate the effectiveness of clickbait and show how it is used in an attempt to break the viewer record of the bubble.