Monday, December 4, 2017

Think Before You Click

Hallie Kile

Misleading Headlines and Fake News

Journalism is certainly not dead. It is, in fact, very much alive. Authentic journalism, however, may be in great danger.

In the past year, the term "fake news" has become a highly politicized topic in the media. Despite its political connotations, however, the issue is a very real problem for legitimate journalism.

Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are common hubs for fake news articles, often characterized by exciting headlines and bizarre claims. The more eye-catching the title, the greater the difficulty in resisting the "click."

Photo via Pixabay
The faux-news trend has become so prominent that Facebook launched the "Journalism Project" in an effort to combat the level of misinformation being shared on its platform. The company has even begun offering education programs at various journalism schools in order to fight back against online news illiteracy. The social media platform's extensive efforts prove that clickbait tactics are much more than a short-lived fad, but rather, a widespread issue for online media.

The issue of bogus journalism poses an immense threat to its authentic adversarycredible media. Anyone with a phone or laptop can become a "journalist" in an instant. These fraudulent individuals craft headlines laced with sensation and scandal in an attempt to make a quick buck.

Using social media to target viewers, phony journalists publish false stories and advertisements with the intention of earning cash. The problem is, these tactics are wildly successful for some.

In the case of "new yellow journalists" Paris Wade and Ben Goldman of, two ordinary men made upwards of $40,000 per month with their clickbait efforts. That value tops median yearly salary of journalists in the United States, according to a recent PayScale estimate.

Clickbait by the Numbers: How is Authentic Journalism Affected?

As the internet becomes more crowded with fictitious claims, professional journalists struggle to find credible information. In its 2017 Global Social Journalism Study, Cision found that "90 percent of respondents use social media for work at least once a week and 48 percent could not successfully complete their work without social media."

Cision's study also revealed the breadth of the fake news dilemma, as 51 percent of respondents considered the issue a "serious problem."

With so much bait squeezing its way into advertisements all across the internet, it's hard to resist. The empty promises of weight-loss solutions and dirt-cheap designer brands beg to be viewed, and we inevitably wonder if just maybe the claims are valid.

According to Forbes, clickbait schemes are easily identifiable, with the top Facebook headlines including phrases such as "will make you," "this is why" and "can we guess." The site dubs these terminologies as "clickbait hallmarks," due to their effectiveness.

So next time you are considering clicking on a story claiming to provide you with rapid anti-aging tactics, think again. Maybe check your news app and peruse the quality news credible journalists have worked so tirelessly to provide. You'll be happy you did!

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