Clickbait, clickbait everywhere

I’ve been too annoyed with clickbait titles recently that I have stopped visiting certain web sites. Particularly, my favorite sports news web site is now blocked on my computers since they started using clickbait titles. Titles that are designer or written to force you to click on the article.

Titles such as “I’ll leave football” are appearing on that web site and they are specifically designed to make you interested or psychologically manipulate you to click on the link. That’s hurtful. That web site is full of this crap, some like “Qataris printed photo of this defender!” will make you enthusiastic about what is happening.

This should stop. i know it’s hard or even impossible to regulate the Web or force publications, specially digital ones, to follow any instruction regarding how they should write or title their work but we got to do something about this. It’s been annoying me so much and I know I’m not the only one.

The problem is that many of these web sites are monetized using advertisements and more clicks and traffic they get, more money they make. Authors are now forced by their employers to write articles that make visitors stay longer and surf more. That will get them money. More we visit their web sites, more personal data they collect from us. Our Internet behavior, our interests, how we use web sites, and many more identifying information about us can be collected when we surf a web site and spend enough time on them.

When I see a title like “promise that calmed down this coach”, I get interested to see what was that promise and why this coach wasn’t calm, and will be distracted from my original intention of visiting the web site, to get an specific score or watch specific video. At least that’s why I visit sports web sites.

The main problem is how we monetize or commercialize web sites. Our data is so valuable to them that they try anything to get them. For us, it’s a matter of privacy and human rights but for them it’s how they make money and get rich. They don’t care about how you feel or how much you value your human right of privacy. They lobby for more freedom to violate your rights and they even pay billions to smooth the way because they make billions more by selling your private information.

The clickbait matter is just a way to force you spend more time on their web sites and surf more and more you do that, more data they can collect about you and it’ll result in more accurate advertisements towards you which will happen when they have enough personal information of you that they can use to train their machines.

The web site owners may not realize that. Most of them are just simple people who found a way to make money by placing ads on their web sites but it doesn’t matter to users like me, it’ll result in same old privacy violations we’ve been facing for years.

I’ve blocked and disabled some web sites on my computers and I won’t visit them even if I type their address out of old habits. Less privacy violation is always a win. I encourage you to do the same with web sites you know.

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Ali Reza Hayati

Entrepreneur, hacker, cypherpunk.