Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks. Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the "curiosity gap", providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content.
From a historical perspective, the techniques employed by clickbait authors can be considered derivative of yellow journalism, or the yellow press, a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines that include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.
By 2014, the ubiquity of clickbait on the web had begun to lead to a backlash against its use. Satirical newspaper The Onion launched a new website, ClickHole, that parodied clickbait websites such as Upworthy and Buzzfeed, and in August 2014, Facebook announced that it was taking technical measures to reduce the impact of clickbait on its social network, using, among other cues, the time spent by the user on visiting the linked page as a way of distinguishing clickbait from other types of content.
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- Derek Thompson (November 14, 2013). "Upworthy: I Thought This Website Was Crazy, but What Happened Next Changed Everything". The Atlantic.
- Katy Waldman (May 23, 2014). "Mind the 'curiosity gap': How can Upworthy be 'noble' and right when its clickbait headlines feel so wrong?". National Post.
- Emily Shire (14 July 2014). "Saving Us From Ourselves: The Anti-Clickbait Movement". The Daily Beast.
- Christine Lagorio-Chafkin (Jan 27, 2014). "Clickbait Bites. Downworthy Is Actually Doing Something About It". Inc.
- Oremus, Will (June 12, 2014). "Area Humor Site Discovers Clickbait", Slate. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- Lisa Visentin (August 26, 2014). "Facebook wages war on click-bait". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Andrew Leonard (Aug 25, 2014). "Why Mark Zuckerberg's war on click bait proves we are all pawns of social media". Salon.
- Khalid El-Arini and Joyce Tang (August 25, 2014). "News Feed FYI: Click-baiting". Facebook Inc.
- Ravi Somaiya (August 25, 2014). "Facebook Takes Steps Against 'Click Bait' Articles". The New York Times.