The term ClickBait (sometimes called Linkbait) refers to a link to a site or a title of something online that ‘baits’ the viewer into clicking on it by using a sensationalized or misrepresented message.
ClickBait can also be in photo form online, I know that several cosplay-related articles feature a cosplayer with cleavage as the display picture despite that photo being buried deep in the article or not actually being that related to the actual topic. The reasoning behind ClickBait is sometimes that it is an advertisement link which will generate revenue if clicked, or that the person who wrote the title is shamelessly looking for clicks which will make their post or site seem popular, which could also result in financial returns.
Example time! You’ve probably se the epitome of ClickBait ads, “One weird trick“- and here is an article on Slate about it. From Yahoo, this article title is clearly ClickBait. On Youtube its becoming we well-known fact that ‘sexy’ thumbnails of videos get more clicks, and are in a way ClickBait as well.
An article on Poynter, ironically entitled “This clickbait headline generator will change your life” has this nifty graph which shows the top 20 Publishers on Facebook in August of 2013. On the graph the top 5 are: 1) BuzzFeed, 2) Huffington Post, 3) CNN, 4) BBC, 5) Upworthy. The top two, and Upworthy, are all known for using ClickBait titles, showing the effectiveness of this somewhat shady tactic. You can go to Us vs Th3m‘s “Guess the Clickbait from the Huffington Post‘s Twitter Timeline”.
Upworthy, which some people have never even heard of, barely beat out The New York Times, which fell into the number six spot. I personally “liked” Upworthy on Facebook, and nearly every day I click on their links, which often have very vague titles. Sometimes these titles are linking to legitimate news, though often they link to things not that related enough to the title or to something that isn’t really that newsworthy. For those still wondering about the ClickBait headline generator, its good for a few laughs.
CollegeHumor‘s “If Popular Books had ClickBait titles” shows that the internet at large has become aware of this phenomenon. The Onion, the satirical fake-news site also has a joke about ClickBait entitled “10 Reasons Falling for Shameless Click Bait Makes You A Bad Mother” which as a title that is itself ClickBait. Well played, The Onion, well played.