I guess you’re all here for the smol pupper right? Well I hate to tell you this but you just got click baited my friend! If you’re lucky I might throw in a cool doggo or two at the end, but first I’d like to touch base with you on two little things called “fake news” and “click-baiting”.
As an audience I think we want to believe that what we are being told is true. Not only because we have trust in people, but also because some of the news stories we’re being told are just so out there that we wish they were true. With the recent US election Facebook feeds were overflowing with fake news articles trying to persuade audiences to think one way or another (41 pro- Clinton articles and 115 pro- Trump articles were recorded as being fake, and having been shared a total of 7.6 million and 30.3 million times respectively).
Media content makers assume that audiences are so gullible that we receive any information and take it on board as the truth. Given the statistics on fake news articles from the election it would seem that as a media audience we really are willing to believe the things we read, especially if it supports our views regarding politics or other controversial topics.
For a lot of media creators the incentive for creating is based on getting more views, likes and traffic on their content to ultimately bring in more money. One guy that knows all too well how quickly fake news stories can rack up the money is Paul Horner, labelled “one of the original kings of fake news,” by Business Insider. His fake news stories such as “Yelp Sues South Park For $10 Million Over Latest Episode” and “Bill Murray Announces Party Crashing Tour” went viral earning him hundreds. While his fake news stories based on the trump campaigns got him a big ol’ 2Million dollars! It’s no wonder creators are turning to fake stories to rack in the money.
But how do these news stories get traffic in the first place? That’s where click bait comes in. ‘Click-baiting’ is when someone uses a snazzy title or a luring image to attract views when that image or title has nothing to do with the actual article or video itself. As a massive lover of YouTube I know how painfully annoying it is to click on a video that says something like “Smol Pupper Devouring World’s Biggest Chorizo Sausage While Wearing a Party Hat” only to find out the video is in fact a vlog of David and his nanna doing their weekly shop at Target. YouTuber Pewdiepie released a video in 2016 show casing the ridiculous click bait titles and thumbnails, pointing out that even though “it’s plagued YouTube for years… [we as audiences] still click on them, [we] never stop clicking them” and even though he has over 54 million subscribers he feels as though he still has to “click bait just to stay relevant”.
So who’s at fault here? Is it the content creators or is it the audiences fault for being so gullible? There’s only so much you can do to stop the spreading of fake news, but how do you control click bait? Is it something that even needs to be controlled or is it just one of those annoying things that you moan about and move on from?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!