Thursday, November 19, 2015

Trolling: The New Clickbait

Isabella Andersen

Clickbait – We’ve all seen it. You probably know someone who shares, almost exclusively, clickbait articles in their Facebook or twitter news feeds. If you've never heard of it, though, clickbait is the use of a cliffhanger in an article's title in order to generate more views. The title of the article usually ends with 'and you won't believe what happened next!', or 'what she did next absolutely BLEW my mind', or something similar. The wording used in clickbait titles is often sensationalist or misleading, and it is certainly annoying. Even worse, it seems as if everyone is guilty of using it.

Though Buzzfeed's Editor-in-Chief claims clickbait hasn't worked to lure in curious audiences since 2009, Facebook is still fighting it, and Upworthy continues to bait readers with their headlines. Clickbait has become so prevalent on YouTube that some stars have parodied the use of cliffhangers in titles to get more views, as seen in this Bro Science video.

Even if clickbait is not as common as it once was, its run has not yet ended. The Washington Post even defended its use, calling journalists who dislike or refuse to use clickbait 'snobby'. I still see it all over my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds, and I think we will be seeing these sensationalist titles for a while. Still, the digital world and online journalism are constantly changing, and with these changes come new methods for journalists to generate more views.

Enter the troll. Internet trolls are the reason I never read the comments section of a news article or blog. Trolls post inflammatory or abusive comments in public forums to hurt or anger others, or simply to start an argument. The last thing I, as a news reader, ever expected, though, was to be trolled by journalists. Still, if you've ever clicked a headline simply because it angered you or ridiculed you and others like you, you have probably been trolled by a journalist or a headline.

I suppose someone decided that trolling is the next logical step, after clickbait, to generate more views, but it seems a little dangerous. Sure, news websites are fighting a daily battle for more hits than the other guy, but there is really no better way to alienate many of your readers than to ridicule an entire group of people.

Journalists trolling their readership is more common than I realized before reading this week's Stop Trolling Your Readers article, but it seems to be a sure way to lose large groups of readers with one article, or even one headline they feel attacks them. After seeing this Time article's headline, The New Millennial 'Morality': Highly Sensitive and Easily Offended, I knew that no matter what the article's actual message is, I'll never be able to get through it. I don't want to be abused because I belong to a certain generation, and I have lost respect for anyone who feels this kind of clickbaiting is acceptable. Trolling makes the original, What happens next is truly shocking method, look good by comparison.

No comments:

Post a Comment