The Merriam Webster definition of “Clickbait” is as follows: “something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.” The fact that Merriam Webster bothered to give the term a proper definition goes to show how huge a thing clickbait has become in the world of social media.
Clickbait is basically a link to an article or website with an enticing title that usually leaves out some key detail, leaving you wanting more information. For example, you may see a title that says something like “Woman finds a hidden room inside her house, what’s inside will leave you shocked.” These titles are designed to lure web users to a website in order to advertise or gain traffic.
Who Benefits from Clickbait?
It has gotten to the point that just about anyone with a website or social media outlet can get paid by utilizing clickbait ads. When you post a clickbait that redirects to a website or advertisement, that company pays a small amount of money every time a user finds their way to the ad. This is however a shallow way of making income and a sure fire way to lose the trust of your viewers. Misleading or obnoxious advertisements tend to leave viewers irritated and reluctant to return.
The Danger of Clickbait
Often times, the link attached to the clickbait has nothing to do with the actual title. You may find yourself being asked to sign up for a website or pay something to get the information you were seeking. You may even be redirected to multiple links, drawing you further into the site. In worst cases, one of those difficult to close “YOU ARE A WINNER” websites pop up, desperately trying to get your personal information. It is not uncommon for a clickbait link to be harmless, simply trying to gain traffic in a website. That being said, be cautious when clicking these links. Viruses and identity theft have both been associated with malicious clickbait links with enticing titles.
Facebook and Clickbait
Facebook has been the number one proprietor of clickbait recently. This is not a decision made by Facebook itself but by many of its users. From celebrities to regular social media surfers; clickbait is becoming easier to use and more popular. Many beloved Facebook pages and personalities keep their pages up to gain followers only to flip the script and start spamming with constant clickbait. While many fall into the trap and click link after link, many followers opt to just click the “unfollow” button and be done with it. Some feel so passionately annoyed by the clickbait uprising that whole Facebook pages and hashtags, such as #stopclickbait, have been dedicated to removing clickbait from social media.
While the idea of clickbait is rather ingenious and has brought in tons of revenue for thousands of social media users, the repercussions have been quite large. What was once an outlet for people to stay connected and make friends has turned into a money making scheme. So, be cautious and think before you click!