“Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” That’s the saying we use when our curiosity piques. The notion of new information on exciting subjects can spark our interest whilst scrolling online. Picture it, you’re scrolling through the internet, and you come across a video or article with a compelling title, so you click on it, and the media isn’t what’s promised! Instead, the article is about something completely different. Sound familiar? Well, that means you’ve come across clickbait.

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Clickbait

So what exactly is clickbait?

“Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” That’s the saying we use when our curiosity piques. The new information on exciting subjects can spark our interest whilst we scroll online.

Picture it, you’re scrolling through the internet, and you come across a video or article with a compelling title, so you click on it, and the media isn’t what’s promised! Instead, the article is about something completely different. Sound familiar? Well, that means you’ve come across clickbait. 

Clickbait is a term used to describe false online advertisements, which can come in many forms. You can find this with articles, videos and websites, and you can figure out they are clickbait by looking at the title’s wording. If they have titles such as; “You’ll never believe this” or “How to achieve this using this one weird trick”, then you know they are trying to pull you to their content. However, not all videos and articles with these titles are clickbait, which is why you often fall for them.

Why do we fall for this many times when we’ve seen it? 

The “need to know” factor draws us to the topic. When we see something that attracts our attention, a part of our brain, the hippocampus, lights up. It is a part of the brain associated with memory! Because humans need more information, this encourages us to click. Clicking these videos gives us an itch that needs to be scratched. 

According to Inc.com, both “mainstream media” and “unreliable media” often use clickbait, which grew in prevalence between 2014 and 2016. 19.46% of headlines were considered clickbait under its definition in 2014, 23.73% in 2015 and 25.27% in 2016. Looking at these statistics, the percentage increases as time progresses, proving how this trickery successfully makes us click these videos.  

Businesses and influencers use the clickbait technique to drive traffic towards their content. 

Used correctly, companies such as Buzzfeed publishing content using clickbait have become a viral sensation that has encouraged watchers to fall down the rabbit hole again. They have endless articles and videos which can keep a user on their site for hours, and they make their content shareable on social media so that others can click on them. That is a perfect way of getting traffic flow.

Most influencers and creators use this technique to get consumers like ourselves to share their content to get more publicity which later increases their traffic, which is then monitored on platforms such as Google Analytics. It is a Google App that can tell businesses statistics based on who clicks on their websites, where they are in the world, how long they spend on the website and how many people are checking their sites! 

The main disadvantage of using clickbait comes down to the fact that it misleads the audience. 

The last thing you want from a creator is lying and misleading their viewers. Distrust can cause a substantial negative impact on your business, and therefore it’s intentionally deceiving your audience for page views. However, websites that use clickbait aren’t focused on reliable stories, truth bringing or facts; it’s more about gaining viewers and clicks. 

Another reason why clickbait could be a disadvantage is the spread of false news. If you don’t click on them and find out whether they are inaccurate, you may take the information in the title and not realise it’s a lie. The title could say something like “Five reasons your dog is bad for you”, and your brain will believe your beloved pet is bad for you without knowing any information. That could also be dangerous, especially if the title is “Cure your corona virus by kissing bees .” 

Information is essential for humans; we’re designed to want to learn more about the topics we love. When using the internet, we are responsible for checking and ensuring we follow the correct pages. You can learn more about fake news and how to spot it here.

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