Don’t click on clickbait

Headlines desire your attention, don’t give them what they want


Tanner Smith, JagWire editor-in-chief

“A man falls down and cries for help twice, the second time my jaw drops.” “9 out of 10 Americans are completely wrong about this mind-blowing fact.” “Here’s what actually reduces gun violence.” These are all examples of click bait. They are catchy tiles designed to make you what to read more and to get as many clicks as possible. These articles just looking for your clicks have the potential to be very dangerous because they increase fake news and undermine real journalists.

While the idea of clickbait headlines have some dangers the real danger is that clickbait is very likely to be associated with fake news. A study by the Center for Information and Technology Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara found that clickbait is a common way to spread fake news, because it creates more curiosity. It is also dangerous because it destroys the trust between journalists and the reader and shifts the focus of journalism to solely revolve around making money. The reason the United States has a free press is to keep people informed, but clickbait is not used to keep people informed. It is just used to make a quick buck by getting as many clicks as possible. This money centered model not only undermines real journalists and creates distrust in the system, it also makes people hate the sites that use it.

We can already see journalism taking a hit with all of these headlines because of the increased distrust that people have in journalists. Even our president is distrustful of the press, which is at least partially due to the increase in clickbait.

This has to change. Clickbait is an incredibly dangerous tool that undermines real journalism and hurts the readers by increasing the spread of fake news. If the United States wants to keep having a free press that keeps people informed, then clickbait is not the answer. It is our job to click on important articles from well-respected sources because without our clicks, clickbait dies.

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