Online clickbait: ethical or not?


If you are like me, you are easily drawn to clickbait – be it an article, video, or anything that digitally captures your eye – dodging potential viruses and money scams, of course. (If you are not like me, well… I trust you!)

You might have come across a headline that tickles your fancy, then realising that the article is completely out of context – not at all what you expected, heck – maybe far from that. Maybe something along the lines of “you’ll never believe what this mother had to sacrifice” led to an abrupt, disappointing twist to the story. Facebook certainly knows what’s up, and is taking action against the trickery:

Sure enough, these articles can draw clicks from the masses, but according to Brisbane Times audience editor Drew Creighton, readers come and go to no surprise – similar to all types of news, but at a faster rate.

On an online forum, he says clickbait does not provide the long-term audience effect other news organisations give with its short and concise headlines:

“By using clickbait, you train your audience to read less substance and expect it. You will lose your serious readers and your itinerants will click less frequently because you are not delivering what you are offering.”

To wrap it up, seeing that clickbait is a form of deception, it is not a form of online journalism – at least, that was what Brisbane editor-in-chief Simon Holt said on a Monday morning lecture at QUT. From experience reading countless articles online and my foolish self, I can dearly relate. I hope not to be deceived… by a ‘Spice Girls comeback’!



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