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Clickbait From Another Perspective

by Mert CENGİZ

Have you ever thought about the titles of internet articles? Do you believe that sometimes they do not exactly refer to what they say they do? It seems you are not wrong and alone at all. Just like the title of this article, as readers, we encounter clickbait very frequently. But why are such titles chosen? Actually, what is clickbait, why do authors and editors prefer to put it, and most importantly; is it ethical? Does it not manipulate us? Let’s try to give an answer.

The term clickbait does not have a single universal definition. On the other hand, subjective titles aiming at readers/listeners to make them read/listen are generally called clickbait by the public. They are not related to the whole material; in fact, there does not need to be a tangible relationship between the title and the article itself. Clickbait titles trigger feelings such as curiosity and excitement so that consumers of materials click on them even if there is nothing special and important. If these facts are kept in mind, it is not wrong to say that clickbait is undoubtedly manipulative.

So, what is the purpose of such titles? Why do authors and editors use this manipulative type? TO be succinct, it has a rational and logical reason: clickbait is really effective. Articles possessing clickbait titles tend to generate more clicks than ones that don't possess such titles. Since more views mean better quality owing to the fact that popularity enables producers to enjoy improved conditions, most producers don’t hesitate to put clickbait titles on their products. In other words, despite the negative facets like being useful for manipulation, clickbait is significant in terms of access to a wider audience. Therefore, using clickbait in titles is natural, and cannot be prevented.    

Is using manipulative titles ethical? One may believe that choosing clickbait titles is not compatible with ethics. Now that these titles do not explain the whole context at all, in some people’s opinion, the creators of clickbait titles are not telling the truth. These people defend a very convincing argument; however, they miss the reality that titles do not have to cover all topics in an article. Clickbait titles which don’t have a connection with their context might be unethical; which means most articles are ethical from this point of view. 

As mentioned above, the usage of clickbait is natural. After being aware of the fact that products with charming titles are viewed more than ones with ordinary titles, producers have tried to attract consumers with the “packaging.” You might ask whether there is an event that triggers the preference of clickbait. There is nothing like this. The manner of presenting materials has evolved in that way. No one has decided to deceive people; therefore, this is also why clickbait is not unethical. 

Ironically this title is clickbait as it does not cover the whole context of the phenomenon of clickbait. You have probably clicked on this article expecting a very different article than what it actually is. This was not the first time that you have seen a clickbait title, and will not be the last. But from now on you will be aware of the fact that clickbait is not a violation of moral rules. It is just a method of creating titles.

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