We started Viralnetics as a means to power up our own social media accounts with genuine and/or interesting content that other like-minded people may be interested in sharing. In our early research, and after looking around what others were doing, we quickly identified with the trashy trend of click-bait used for almost all these “content aggregation” style of websites.
Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines or eye-catching thumbnail pictures to attract click-throughs, and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks. Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the “curiosity gap”, providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content.
While we’ll occasionally navigate the fine line of click-bait type headlines, it’s not intentional, and it’s a practice we view as socially criminal. Our intention is to under-promise with headlines and (generally) over-deliver… while many of our social brethren (and more traditional news sites) often adopt that practice in reverse.
In August 2014, Facebook announced that it was taking technical measures to reduce the impact of clickbait on its social network (and we’ve only just learned that this “tweaked algorithm” meant introducing a human level of moderation). However, despite Facebook’s promised clickbait crusade, nothing seems to have changed in a noticeable way.
The Facebook page #StopClickBait is an interesting page in that it simply takes what might be considered viral headlines and provides the unimpressive punchline – saving the viewer from subjecting themselves to a malware-infected magnet designed to do nothing than waste your time. The following gallery provides just a few snapshots of the service that they provide.
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