Search clickbait online and Google describes it as "(on the internet) content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular webpage."
We have all done it, clicked on some intriguing link on Facebook that sounds something like "12 Things Your Boyfriend Wants You To Know," only to end up at a random blog article that has absolutely nothing to do with that headline. We are being finessed for clicks. And what is driving this? Money of course. Advertisers are playing on the emotions of consumers - both positive and negative, to generate more clicks.
According to Kira Goldberg of the Columbia Journalism Review, only a small percent of people are actually reading the content that they are sharing on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter - thus the importance of an eye-catching, reaction-inducing headline.
A few years ago, the common practice was to leave certain information out of the headline, peaking interest - creating the curiosity gap. However, now it seems that content is often headlined with deliberately offensive, or troll-like tactics - banking on shares driven by appalled-reader fury and outrage. This trend isn't rapidly growing off of just a hunch either. We've got the numbers to prove that it works.