Clickbait changes news … for worse


The world of news has certainly been changing rapidly with the onset of the Internet.

Unfortunately, I would have to argue it has changed for the worse. This is mainly because of a phenomenon known as “clickbait.”

It is nearly impossible to scroll through a Facebook feed these days without seeing a headline reading something like “You’ll Never Guess What These Guys Found While Digging in their Yard!” That’s clickbait. That’s also a real headline. The “crazy thing” they dug up was an animal bone. With a headline that provocative I assumed it would be a lost monument or an ancient artifact.

Of course, the entire reasoning behind clickbait is to gain website hits. The more hits a site gets, the more advertising money it receives. It’s an understandable business strategy, but sensationalizing mundane stories that can hardly be called news causes more important matters to be ignored. The reason true news stories get lost in the depths of the Internet is twofold: their headlines either aren’t “intriguing” enough to merit a click, or they are simply drowned out by the sheer number of sensationalist news websites.

One such website, Buzzfeed has become so notorious for this, that noted faux news source The Onion created an entire website called “ClickHole” to mock it. It is both funny and sad knowing that if you put the sites’ respective headlines next to each other without the domain name, it would be impossible to tell which was real and which was fake.

Internet news has simply become “who can write the most eye-catching headline” instead of “who can write the most accurate and compelling news story.” At this point, it is impossible to tell if the internet will reach a breaking point with clickbait, but for now it reigns supreme. I can only hope that this is another trend that will fall by the wayside and that true news will return as king once more.