Clickbait Watch #4 🖱️

Alex Brandon / AP

Alex Brandon / AP

New section

We're launching a new weekly section called "Clickbait Watch". Clickbait stories are are meant to generate online clicks for the purpose of driving more traffic and hence generate more $$$ for the publisher. This often means loud, extreme language used in the titles of stories. I guess not many people click on calm titles. 🤷

So what?

Clickbait leads to a rise in the volume and anxiety of your online news experience, or even misleading reporting. Each week we'll look at the most egregious clickbait titles, and after analyzing them, give them a less extreme title based on the actual information in the article.


CLICKBAIT #2:

Weather.com: Bridge Explosion has Onlookers Shook (link title)

News Bling’s Suggestion: Old, unused bridge imploded on purpose

Reason: This title is part of an ongoing look at Weather.com website link headlines. Again, the real title, once you click on the article, is more reasonable: Old Bridge Imploded Over Missouri River.  This was a bridge that was out-of-service and was demolished as a result. But the link title sounds like a disaster, an attack, or at least unexpected.  This is purposefully misleading, and even irresponsible.



CLICKBAIT #1:

Washington Post: "You would make a perfect gargoyle": Ted Cruz slammed for joke about Disney's Notre Dame donation

News Bling’s Suggestion: Ted Cruz’s joke receives critical comments on Twitter

Reason: Ted Cruz made a not-so-funny joke about Disney donating to Notre Dame, wondering if there would be “Disney princesses in the new stained glass.” Some Twitter users decided to criticize this joke. But really, it appears the users just wanted to score their own jabs off of the low-hanging fruit of a corny politician joke. The title is misleading on a few counts: Firstly, the mean-spirited quote is from a user, not Cruz. Secondly, it uses that classic clickbait word “slammed”. "Slammed" implies a consensus of criticism that's hard to prove. Overall, there’s not much in this story except normal Twitter behavior, but admitting that doesn’t get many clicks.


Something about his face says, "Help me."

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