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Clickbaiting, What is it?

Have you ever clicked on an article because of a juicy headline? Have you ever felt like reading the article was a bit anticlimactic? If so, then you may have been exposed to clickbaiting.

Clickbaiting has spread like wildfire across social media platforms. The idea behind it is simple, make your headlines as eye-catching and enticing as possible to get people to click on the content.

Have you seen any of the following types of headlines on Facebook or Twitter recently?

“Only people with a mensa IQ can solve these riddles. Are you one of them? Click to find out…”

“10 household uses for vinegar (you won’t believe number 8!)”

“They didn’t know anyone lived next door. You won’t believe what happened when they found out!”

These generic examples of clickbaiting are common and the typical end result is to raise money from advertisements. If you’ve ever clicked on a post like this, you’ll notice that the webpage is plagued with advertisements. These websites will usually only make money when people click on the advertisements displayed on their website, so by using clickbaiting to get more users on their site, the hope is that this will lead to more people clicking on ads, generating income for the web page.

Whenever money is involved, it’s no secret that a minority of people will play outside the rules and with clickbaiting, that is no different. Essentially, content owners may be intentionally misleading, deliberately exaggerating or sometimes outright lying in order to get the catchiest headline. It’s important to be especially careful on these sites if you do click on them as their ads can be frauds.. For example, ‘miracle’ fat loss drugs or free iPhones. As you would in the physical world, apply the rule “If it’s too good to be true then it usually is” and you should be able to navigate around all these clickbaits with ease.

The whole process of clickbaiting does seem a bit disingenuous, almost like someone is trying to rob you of your click, and you might associate this with the dangers of the internet, but it’s essentially the same as the front page of a newspaper. Both use a short headline to make one message clear, you need to read the rest of this.

With the recent coronavirus outbreak, we have all inevitably been spending more time on our phones and laptops, so let’s challenge ourselves to be more vigilant and aware of clickbaiting. Try and identify what posts are trying to pull you in.  Look at how much pointless and irrelevant backstory they fill their article up with before you find the tiny snippet of the article you were actually interested in, it might just shock you.

In short, clickbaiting has been around for decades, we’re just now being exposed to it in a digital form. By keeping your wits about you, you’ll be able to protect yourself online

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