Do you know why you clicked on this headline? We’ll touch on that, as well as highlight some of the main reasons you should be wary when faced with an array of must-click articles. While headlines like these are crafted in order to stimulate emotions such as curiosity, anger, surprise, and shock, most of the content will not satisfy your curiosity, and some of the pages have more malicious purposes.
First, what is clickbait?
When discussing the question “what is clickbait”, you’re going to have to remember this – Clickbait is an ever-evolving style of writing headlines and links that lead to inevitable disappointment for the user. You will see titles that give you “3 reasons to click this link – Number 2 had me laughing so hard I cried!” Most of us are guilty of clicking on nonsensical superlative links on Facebook or Twitter (no, you’re not going to get a free flight by signing up). Even though we know it’s bad, we still find it difficult not to click on tempting links of a photo album of “The top 23 cutest puppies! Number 17 made my heart MELT!” or to find out if you’re “Smarter than Leonardo DaVinci? – Find out with this FREE IQ TEST!”
Why is clickbait so popular and so darned tempting?
It’s not your fault. We all know it’s bad. Clickbait is a psychological art that has been mastered to draw users into the clickhole, using our brain’s wiring against us. As you scroll through your news feed, lists featuring odd numbers, which stand out while giving you an idea of how long the article will take to read. To get a better understanding of the role emotion plays on your decision to click, we recommend Wired’s article “You’ll Be Outraged at How Easy It Was to Get You to Click on This Headline”. The title says it all.
How is clickbait dangerous?
The problem with these tempting offers and headlines is that, in addition to often being a letdown and waste of your time, some have an even more sinister purpose. And they’re achieving their ends well. Here are some of the biggest dangers posed by clickbait.
- Dangerous links can host malware and trojans. If the SHOCKING headline you clicked on doesn’t directly host the online threat, the next link might, and you will be shocked indeed.
- Content flipping is the old bait-and-switch method of using a post or page that has achieved virality and switching the content for more malicious purposes. You will be disappointed
- Free IQ tests and credit score checks can be examples of phishing. You are asked to fill in personal information in order to get your results. This is just asking for trouble – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Clickjacking is one of the more subtle methods used by hackers and scammers. Clicking on a button that advertises one thing but really does another, without the user or the site owner’s knowledge.
- Hidden opt-in conditions for quizzes and contests from your social profile can allow the provider to access and use your personal data in any way they wish. In fact, you might want to check your privacy settings on your social profiles now and see if any apps you no longer use still have access to your profile.
- It doesn’t stop with your personal profile and information. One personal profile being hijacked is enough to endanger your friends, flooding their newsfeeds with links to scams and dangerous links.
- This one will not shock you. There has been an increasing trend in cheaply manufactured counterfeit goods being advertised and sold across Facebook. Think that dress being sold at $11.99 will really live up to your expectations? It probably won’t and you have a slim chance of getting your money back. Remember the saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Rosewholesale Scam Facebook page / Via Facebook: 1428828810722465
What should you do if you come across clickbait scams? Report them. Warn others. We’ve got a tool for that.
Here’s the link for reporting scams to Facebook.
Here’s the link for reporting scams to Twitter.