Avoiding Clickbait

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  • #48617
    JimPI
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    The online world is very much a double-edged sword. I mean, we live in an age where just about any piece of information we seek is, quite literally, at our fingertips. Yet, at the same time, people are becoming less and less likely to make even the most minimal effort to obtain reliable information. Case in point – Clickbait.

    Clickbait is a technique used by websites to increase their traffic. Basically, the website will come up with some sort of sensational headline, one that is sure to evoke an almost immediate, emotional response from the reader. Something like, “Obama sues trucking company for not hiring Muslim terrorists!” The headline is posted on social media along with a link to the website. The linked page typically contains very little in the way of hard facts and instead is usually a poorly researched and sometimes horribly written “article” that, from time to time, might even have little or nothing to do with the headline.

    The idea behind clickbait is to accomplish two goals. First, many people will just share that post without actually reading the article. The headline is enough to incense people to the point to where they’ll post a comment and share the link. This increases the reach of the website, allowing more and more people to see that link. This serves the second goal of increasing traffic to the website. The more people who see the link, the more who will click on it. These websites make money off of your traffic through advertising. Often, the rate of pay is linked directly to the number of clicks the website generates in a given time period. The more clicks, the more money earned.

    Keep in mind, too, that there really is nothing to prevent any website from posting whatever the heck it wants. Some sites, such as The Onion, specialize in parody and making their “news” look like real news. Their goal is to make people laugh. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people share links to Onion articles believing the stories to be genuine, regardless of how ridiculous the story actually is.

    There is a difference, though, between parody and outright bullsh**. The latter is what many websites consider to be their stock in trade. The folks running the sites don’t care that the stories posted are utter and complete fabrications. As long as the traffic numbers are high, that’s all that matters. The sad fact is, many people who read such nonsense can’t be bothered to apply even an iota of common sense to see if the story passes muster. They read it on the Internet so it must be true! So, they forward on the link to the story to every person in their address book and on their friends list. At least a percentage of those folks will click on the link and the circle continues on and on and on….

    Preppers and survivalists often say that they believe facts about the world, the government, whatever, are being withheld from them. That conspiracies are afoot and we are in danger from Jade Helm, Planet X, New World Order, whatever. I don’t know what truth, if any, lies behind those so-called conspiracies. I do know this, though. You aren’t likely to find any real answers on a quasi-news website that is filled with clickbait.

    We complain a lot about the mainstream media and how it distorts the truth. There is definitely a bias present in just about any news story that you read, see, or hear. Gone are the days of “just the facts” reporting. That said, people sometimes overlook that this applies across the board, no matter if you’re looking at a liberal or conservative news source.

    Use your head for something more than just a hat rack, folks. Apply just a little logic and common sense before you buy into these sensational stories hook, line, and sinker.

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by ReadyMom.
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