The Listening Post

The rise of ‘clickbait’

Headlines have been designed strategically of late to seduce viewers to click, making them misleading at times.

Aren’t headlines supposed to tell us what’s in a story so you can decide whether to read it? Since when did they start promising to “blow your mind”?

In the battle for online eyeballs, media outlets tend to follow the traffic. As Buzzfeed and Upworthy’s pageview figures have skyrocketed, other websites have copied the clickbait formula. But there is another factor at play here which is less about the headlines and more about one particular website that is driving a lot of those clicks: Facebook.

When the social media giant changed what is known as its ‘newsfeed algorithm’ last year, that one change channeled all-kinds of highly-clickable content right there where you are most likely to see it.

Suddenly clickbait was everywhere. So when you are killing time on the internet and a headline grabs you, will you rise to the clickbait?


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