Poor content, false information, tons of clicks

If you are on Facebook, chances are you have come across a post falsely indicating your favorite celebrity has died, or that a man-eating shark responsible for one hundred missing persons around Lac-St.-Jean was finally caught.

Bigger, faster, stronger

The Internet gives the opportunity for anyone to post almost any content, whether it is based on facts or not. When the content is posted on a website, it is almost restricted to the users, and to Google searches. However, once something is shared on social media, its audience grows quickly, as it gets visibility through tags, shares, likes and hashtags. In this fast-paced world where social media users are becoming less patient and expect to get what they want when they want it, content is viewed and shared at the touch of a finger, even if it contains false information.

Fighting the propagation of false information or fake news on social media is not an easy task. As a matter of Fact, by trying to tackle fake news, Facebook has been criticized for increasing its volume and importance on the platform. After telling users not to share certain fake news, it increased the traffic to the related sites and generated more exposure for the news. It created a domino effect where users were also sharing the news to tell their connections not to share them, or not to believe them.

Juicy titles

With the rise of social media came the rise of click-bait. In an article on Social Media Today, Jeff Rum explains that “the danger of click-bait is that if the only criterion for success is clicks, then the quality of content falls. And fast. And far. Click-bait has diminished how people value news. Fake news stories flourish in a market flooded with fluff and appeals to our baser instincts”. With juicy, misleading social media posts, websites with fake news get more clicks, more attention.

Click bait

[Purchased image; https://shutr.bz/2vDkoyg%5D

As clicks is a measurement unit and a criteria for social media marketing success, some sites will do anything to get the clicks, including misleading their users and posting poor content.

With the amount of information we process everyday on social media, it can become confusing and time consuming to verify the source of all the information we come across, and its credibility. However, more than ever, it is essential that we remain critical and question the information we are spoon fed through social media posts. In a democratic society, we need facts and we need to hear the truth if we want to make informed decisions. Furthermore, to stop perpetuating the cycle of fake news, we need not only to ignore it, but to take the time to value and share the truth to make sure that it is not buried in fake news.

Take the time to stop and think before you click.

What do you think about click-bait in the context of social media marketing? How do you make sure what you see in your social media feed is as real as possible?

twitter-logo-4How long do you analyze a social media post before you click on its link? #fakenews http://bit.ly/2wkiAYU

fb logoAre you as picky as you should be when it comes to choosing the stories you read from your social media feeds? http://bit.ly/2wkiAYU

Click bait

[Purchased image; https://shutr.bz/2vDkoyg%5D

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8 thoughts on “Poor content, false information, tons of clicks

  1. Yep — the title is always what attracts me. I just hadn’t realized it before I read your post. I also get sucked into reading stuff that I know is pure garbage. I like to think that I have enough common sense to realize that. Thanks for the post – it was an interesting read.

    • I am the same way!!!! Tricky titles always get me and most of the time they have nothing to do with the actual article yet I find myself clicking on them all of the time!

  2. I don’t always trust what I read or see on social media. It is difficult to know if the information that you read is real or false. I have been tricked before by fake news and shared this information with my friends. I now try and investigate if it is true before I instantly share with my contacts. It is sad to think about how many people thrive on celebrity gossip, scandals and controversial news. Thanks for the great post.

    • Thanks for your comment Deanna. I agree, sometimes it is difficult to know if the information is real or not – unfortunately it seems sometimes we need to assume the latter, just to be safe.
      V

  3. I read an interesting National Geographic article the other day on lying where the author talked about reposting something that later turned out be fake news. He felt guilty about it and identified the mistake to others and within the National Geographic article talked about the mistake as a lie. I think this is an interesting point – if we share fake news are we just as guilty? Are we lying? Are we lying if we discover it’s fake news and don’t do all we can to address the issue? I’m not sure. Also within the article was the fact that even if there is a monetary advantage to lying people quite often wouldn’t lie more than a minimal amount (in this case how many math questions did they get right – they would get more money the more they claimed to get right but the participants would often only claim to get one or two more correct than they actually did). So perhaps we just need to weed out the few people who have no problem lying to the extreme!

  4. Personally, I can’t stand clickbaity headlines. It’s sad because some new organizations/websites feel they need to pull people into their articles that way (and it works), but I think you should be able to rely on the strength of the content and not the headline to pull people in (and if you can’t, that speak volumes). I write for a hockey website where we have to create the headlines for our own articles and submitting an article with a headline that crosses the line of being click bait is grounds for reprimand or even sometimes dismissal.

    • Thanks for sharing, Andrew – that’s very interesting. The website you write for obviously values quality content over clicks. In the end, I think that’s essential for success… and online survival!
      V

  5. The only way I’ll trust anything I read on Facebook if I know the source is trusted and credible. According to a Facebook representative I heard speak, their algorithm can tell when a post is most likely fake news, largely by how it’s been shared. If a post gets shared without anyone reading it before they share, it’s more likely to be flagged as spam.

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