How To Avoid the Clickbait Trap

By Tracey Dowdy

I’ve been seeing what seems to be a lot more clickbait in my Facebook newsfeed lately. Posts like What This Firefighter Does on the Side of the Road Will Blow You Away, What Does Your Name Actually Mean?, or What This Adorable Little Girl Says Next Will Melt Your Heart.

Posts like these are designed to target your “curiosity gap,” the part of your brain that piques your interest so you just have to click on that link. Most of the clickbait posts you see are harmless, although don’t forget that every click is recorded by someone, somewhere. Facebook and savvy marketers track those clicks very carefully indeed, using complicated algorithms to see which headlines generate the most traffic.

So what is clickbait anyway? Is it really a big deal? And what did that firefighter do on the side of the road?

Facebook describes it this way: “‘Clickbait’ is when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see.”

In other words, it’s basically the same trick that news presenters use to make sure you come back after the commercial break: “Researchers say this common household cleaner is linked to cancer in children.” You think, “Wait, what? I clean my house. Does that mean I’m giving my kids cancer? I better stick around after the break and find out.”

Vox’s acting managing editor, Nilay Patel, writes “Most clickbait is disappointing because it’s a promise of value that isn’t met—the payoff isn’t nearly as good as what the reader imagines.”

It’s not a big deal if you’ve got low expectations. Think of clickbait as cotton candy for your brain: you know it isn’t good for you, there’s no real substance and it’s overpriced, but you’re at the fair so why not? With clickbait you know there’s no deep philosophical truth on the other end of that link, the payoff won’t be as great as is promised, and your life won’t be any more complete than it was 30 seconds ago.

What is a big deal is that not all clickbait is harmless. Last year, innocent victims clicked on a link that promised information about missing Malaysian Airways flight MH370. Individuals were directed to a third party site where they were prompted to update software to watch a video. Instead of getting information on MH370, they inadvertently downloaded malware.

So how are you supposed to know what’s harmless and what is going to potentially infect your computer with anything from porn popups to keystroke logging software?

Remember the first rule of the internet: “Never click on unfamiliar links.” In addition, these five tips from the Better Business Bureau can help protect you:

  • Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions of “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational” footage. If it sounds too outlandish to be true (Bermuda Triangle, really?), it is probably a scam.
  • Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.
  • Don’t trust your friends’ taste online. It might not actually be them “liking” or sharing links to photos. Their account may have been hacked. But it may also be “clickjacking,” a technique that scammers use to trick you into clicking on something that you would otherwise ignore. (Great example: the Facebook “Like” button).
  • On Facebook, report scam posts and other suspicious activity by following these instructions.
  • On Twitter, if another user is sending you links to malware or other spam, report it to Twitter by following these instructions. “

And finally, that firefighter. His name is Casey Lessard and he lay on the ground beside a critically injured car accident victim so the distraught child could watch Happy Feet until the ambulance arrived. Now there’s a link that’s worth clicking on!

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Comments:

  1. It’s going to be ending of mine day, however before ending I am reading this fantastic post to improve my experience.

  2. Liseli kızlar sırasıyla kanepede olan genç adamın uzun siki ağzına alarak boşaltıyor.
    götten sikiş hastası yada seks filmleri gibi çeşitli +18 videolar
    adresinde Xnxx gizli saklı olmadan yayınları.

  3. Yetişkin Porno Film siteleri arasında en ilgi çekici
    sitemiz üzerinden seks videolarını izleyebilir, videoları sosyal medya üzerinden paylaşımda bulunarak etkileşim
    yaşayabilir, Porno izleyip 31.

  4. If 36 Jaw-Dropping Military Photos is not Click Bait I’ll eat my spinach.

  5. Dear theonlinemom.com administrator, You always provide great examples and real-world applications, thank you for your valuable contributions.

  6. Dear theonlinemom.com administrator, You always provide great examples and real-world applications, thank you for your valuable contributions.

  7. Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having
    a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail.

    I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing.
    Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it improve over
    time.

  8. Fantastic goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re
    just extremely fantastic. I really like what you have acquired here, really like what you’re
    saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you
    still take care of to keep it smart. I can not wait to read far
    more from you. This is really a tremendous website.

  9. Hello would you mind letting me know which hosting company you’re utilizing?
    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different internet browsers and I
    must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.
    Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a honest price?
    Cheers, I appreciate it!

  10. Hey very cool site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing
    .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also? I’m happy to find a lot
    of helpful info right here within the put up, we’d like develop
    more strategies in this regard, thanks for sharing.
    . . . . .

  11. Terrific post however , I was wondering if you could write
    a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Thanks!

  12. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like
    you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you
    could do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that,
    this is great blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  13. You are so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve read anything like this before.
    So wonderful to discover another person with original thoughts on this subject matter.
    Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is one
    thing that is required on the web, someone with a little originality!

  14. We absolutely love your blog and find a lot of your post’s
    to be what precisely I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write content in your case?
    I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a
    lot of the subjects you write in relation to here.
    Again, awesome web site!

  15. Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum
    it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any suggestions for inexperienced blog writers?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

  16. obviously like your web site but you need to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts.
    A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very
    troublesome to tell the reality however I will certainly come back again.

  17. Hello there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was
    wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

  18. Howdy, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and
    i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam feedback?
    If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can recommend?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any help is
    very much appreciated.

  19. Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the web the easiest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they
    plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the
    whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  20. Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this site.

    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very difficult to
    get that “perfect balance” between superb usability and visual appeal.
    I must say you’ve done a excellent job with this. In addition, the
    blog loads super fast for me on Internet explorer. Outstanding Blog!

  21. Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website
    before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

  22. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button!
    I’d certainly donate to this superb blog! I suppose for now
    i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your
    RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new
    updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group.

    Talk soon!

  23. Hi would you mind letting me know which hosting company you’re utilizing?
    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different internet browsers
    and I must say this blog loads a lot faster
    then most. Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a honest price?

    Thanks, I appreciate it!

  24. I blog often and I genuinely thank you for your
    content. This great article has truly peaked my interest.
    I’m going to book mark your website and keep checking for new details about once a week.

    I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.

  25. I think the admin of this web page is genuinely working hard in support
    of his web page, since here every information is quality based material.

  26. I needed to thank you for this great read!! I definitely loved every bit of it.
    I have you book marked to check out new stuff you post…

  27. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my website thus i came to “return the favor”.I am attempting to
    find things to improve my site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  28. I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but good
    topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  29. Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve take into account
    your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely fantastic.
    I really like what you have bought right here, really like
    what you’re stating and the best way during which you say it.

    You’re making it entertaining and you still care for
    to stay it smart. I can not wait to read much more from you.
    This is actually a great website.

  30. My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs. But he’s tryiong none the less.
    I’ve been using WordPress on numerous websites for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform.
    I have heard excellent things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?

    Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

  31. Excellent items from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re simply too
    magnificent. I actually like what you have bought here,
    really like what you’re saying and the best way by which you
    assert it. You make it enjoyable and you continue to care for to stay it
    sensible. I can’t wait to read far more from you. That is actually
    a great web site.

  32. I seriously love your website.. Very nice colors & theme.
    Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create my own site and would like
    to learn where you got this from or just what the
    theme is named. Cheers!

  33. I do not know whether it’s just me or if perhaps
    everybody else encountering problems with your blog. It appears like some of the written text on your posts are running off the
    screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening
    to them too? This may be a problem with my web browser because
    I’ve had this happen before. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *