Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Clickbait Fishes To Deceive Readers

Emily O'Flynn

Who are we supposed to trust anymore? Trust in the media is at an all-time low. The media is constantly criticized by leaders in today's political climate for distributing "fake news."

In a The Washington Post article, a 26-year-old explains how he has risen on his website's platform to profit from posting his own opinions. "You have to trick people into reading the news," said Paris Wade, writer for LibertyWritersNews.com. The articles written for the website take about ten minutes to compose. Elaborating more on the strategy behind receiving clicks, Ben Goldman says, "Our audience does not trust the mainstream media. It's definitely easier to hook them in with that." Less-informed individuals are being reeled into a trap, believing that the mainstream media is evil and trusting less credible news sources.

Some believe it should be left to social media platforms to filter out fake news with real news. According to Joshua Benton of Nieman Lab, Facebook has capabilities to filter the news. "One simple one would be to hire editors to manage what shows up in its Trending section - one major way misinformation gets spread. Facebook canned its Trending editors after it got pushback from conservatives; that was an act of cowardice, and since then, fake news stories have been algorithmically pushed out to millions with alarming frequency."
Image via theodysseyonline.com

What it all comes down to is personal responsibility. If you feel that you have fallen victim to a fake news story based on an intriguing headline, worry no more! Below are three tips to spot clickbait before you even click on it:

Sounds unbelievable
Have you ever seen a headline that looked too good to be true? Odds are, it's not real news. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the new trend in journalism is trolling readers through headlines. "Only a small percentage of people read the stories they are sharing. But the more something is shared, the more people will see it, the more will click. As long as it doesn't completely destroy brand credibility, hate-sharing - when someone broadcasts an enraging link to followers - is just as valuable for a site as sincere, thoughtful interplay with its work," says Kira Goldenberg.

You haven't heard of the news source
Although there are plenty of reputable publications you haven't heard of before, there are some forms of media that purposefully want to trick you into believing certain things. Before clicking on the article, research who is releasing the article. The following are questions you can ask yourself when researching the website: What are their sources? Does it say somewhere that it is a parody account? Does the website seem to lean in a certain direction politically?

At the end of the day, we are individually responsible for the news we consume. We are responsible for the news that we share with others via word of mouth or social media. We are responsible for the repercussions of sharing particular news. I don't trust my friends on social media to check their own sources, but I believe in myself to make educated decisions about what information is accurate and worth sharing.

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