Off The Hook

How to identify and avoid clickbait

It’s a universal truth that clickbait is one of the biggest pitfalls of the internet.

Image by Derek Gavey via Flickr

Let’s just face facts for a minute. Everybody hates clickbait. You, the reader, have the most cause; Wasted time looking for non-existent stories about your fave celeb, distractions from your work (well, a distraction from your newsfeed, which is distracting you from your work) and let down after led down over what looked like a really good procrastination tool that never materialises.

Trust me when I say, though, that the creators hate it just as much as you do.

Imagine you are a trained writing professional, ready and willing to get stuck into an investigation that exposes corruption, for example, or writing up a big political fall-out. Your editor has other ideas.
“How about instead you write about the new Marvel movie?” they might say. “People love it! Maybe a piece that tells people what Super Hero they are?”.

Yay.

Why, though? Why has your news gone from quality, fact based reporting and journalism to sensationalist, attention grabbing headlines with no substance?

It has a lot to do with one thing; money.

“Clickbait” is the uncomplimentary word referring to web content that is used to lure users into clicking onto a webpage. Most clickbait type links have catchy or sensationalised headlines that are difficult for most users to resist and often have little or nothing to do with the actual web page or even the person mentioned. The majority of the time the link will open a website that requires either registration, payment or is one of many pages you have to click through to get to the ‘content’ that you are seeking.

Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the “curiosity gap”, providing just enough information to make readers curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content.
The over sensationalised headlines and the exaggerations invoke emotion and trigger reader curiosity, which intrinsically motivates a person’s desire for information thus attracting users to click on the hyperlink and in turn the site hits its view quota, and you’re left there looking for the article about “Miley Cyrus’ top ten used emojis” which then leads into ‘Eat these four foods and never have to exercise again’.

Most clickbait articles offer short, easily skimmable articles that are visually appealing and include a lot of pictures and videos they are mostly in list order which makes the content more easily comprehensible for the reader.

The problem with all is cut into both sides of the news industry.

For the publishers, resorting to using these tactics to attract more users can do more harm than good for the brand. Yes, it does grab the user’s attention because the headline is clever or witty, but clickbaits often fail to deliver what is bannered, leading to distrust, damage to reputation, and an eventual decline in a loyal readership.

On the other side, the reader is having to experience these feelings of distrust, annoyance, and a loss of a reliable source of quality news and information.

Yet there is a way out of this mess — for everyone. And we start on the path, we’ll never look back.

What we all have to do, as an individual, family, group of friends, groups of enemies, off-season team of Ultimate Frisbee players — whatever — is to fill your screen with stuff you know is good quality, fact based news and journalism. Every time you see a shitty clickbait article on your news feed? Unfollow whoever put it there. Searching for a good source of breaking news and comments? Go for industry standards (the ABC and SBS in Australia like to keep things real). Avoid any Facebook page that comes from a morning talk show.

After in depth analysis of current events in the media cycle as well as issues pushed to the side of the debate? Check out InPress Media

InPress is a digital news platform that is built to end clickbait — or at least make it so you don’t have to deal with it anymore. Because InPress is built around a simple e-commerce structure, there is a direct link between good content being rewarded and poor content going unread. To further show trust and support in every piece published on InPress, there is a percentage displayed on every article that highlights how many people felt the article worth the money paid.

These features, combined with the base of high quality, independent news and journalism, creates a platform that goes beyond what the media industry of today can give you, and form the support structure for an ecosystem that offers more than clickbait headlines and listicles. InPress Media gives you the truth.

Inpress is a new digital news platform. Like what you see? Come check out www.inpress.media for more info about InPress + a free $1 of reading material when we go live for supporting quality journalism!

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There’s more than one side to every story. With enough stories, we can find the truth.

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Liam Champagne

Liam Champagne

Co-founder — InPress Media

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