A Rose-Hulman Student Does Research On Clickbait. What He Discovers Will Leave You Speechless!

Clickbait is a “news” link with an eye catching title. Its main goal is to generate internet traffic, but the article never really lives up to the hype. Everyone has probably fallen victim to clickbait. We will see the title and immediately know that it is clickbait, but still, more often than not, we click on that link to find out what the mom, who is dying in ten days, said to her son, yet our minds are never blown.

Clickbait utilizes many tactics in their headlines to capture a person’s attention. The article, “The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral…” just as the title implies, gives six key points that help make a story go viral. Clickbait typically uses a few of these points to help get clicks and shares. The titles can range from using emotion, arousal, social currency, memory inducing, practical value, and maybe even quality. Sometimes even the clickbait article will provide a few of these things. This same article even gives an example of clickbait that generates emotion (happiness) out of the reader, “Watch a Teenager Bring His Class to Tears Just by Saying a Few Words.” This video gives some explanation behind clickbait, and how some well-known news sites are trying to mimic this strategy.
(Disclaimer: The video is 8 minutes long)

The rise of clickbait could be traced to the rise of the internet and social media. As social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, increased in users, the sites allowed an increase in company advertisements, which included clickbait. Additionally, users trying to gain followers to boost their visibility and income used “click farms,” which allowed the user to buy fans. However, this article explains how clickbait has somewhat been trending downward. It states,  “At the end of 2013, Facebook made some changes that meant that users were seeing a lot less content posted by businesses, so followers purchased lost their value. They also introduced paid advertising, that allows page owners to boost their posts to expand their reach.” The article also shows that from November 2013 to April 2014, the clickbait site, Upworthy, has lost over half of its visitors, 90 million to 42 million. While Upworthy may be falling, Buzzfeed is still going strong, with an increase from 147 million to 162 million over that same time period.

While there is no actual data on whether clickbait is in decline or not, it is still very much everywhere on the internet. However, Facebook and Twitter still play a huge roll in clickbait traffic. This infographic provides a detailed look at how these social media sites affect click bait (I decided not to post the actual infographic, because it is about a mile long). Have you ever experienced clickbait? Do you think clickbait will eventually decline and become less prevalent on the internet?


7 thoughts on “A Rose-Hulman Student Does Research On Clickbait. What He Discovers Will Leave You Speechless!

  1. I have definitely experienced clickbait and think that almost anyone who uses the internet on a regular basis has seen an example of clickbait. Unfortunately, I don’t think that clickbait will decline because so many sites count the number of ‘views’ that they get. Clickbait, essentially tricking people to click on the link, is an easy way to get views. Many sites don’t care what the viewers do after they click on the link, and this is why they will continue to use this method. Even if you just open the link for a few seconds before closing it, this still counts as a view for their site, which is all they want.


  2. Nice blog title! I hate how much clickbait there is on the internet. It’s a little crazy. I cannot believe that it has become popular enough for there to be “click farms” etc. However, I believe that the current form of clickbait will decline and we become even more desensitized to it, and as social media companies change their policies. However, I think that it will always exist in one way or another, because people want to generate easy income over the internet, and I don’t see that changing soon.


  3. As with most internet users I have experienced click bait! I certainly don’t think that it will be going away any time soon however. I have a feeling that as long as people have the desire to get people to click and earn money or the like they will. Now that being said it seems that click bait may evolve. As people become wise to their tactics they may have to change how they present things.


  4. Great title! I think that the topic of clickbait is related to the passage from the book we read, “Why Media Spreads.” Clickbait really focuses on the stickiness side of online media. Because the articles and videos are often straight-forward, they don’t allow easy spreadability because the viewer can’t give the article his or her own meaning. Their goal is to get people to view their website, as opposed to spread the media in a positive way.


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