Clickbait refers to news portal content designed to lure readers into clicking sensationalist headlines or pictures.
The clicks themselves generate revenue, hence, the clickbait news has little to do with news and much to do with generating income. The clickbait is the digital version of yellow journalism that profits from sensational and fake news. The difference, however, is that previously yellow journalism was in a category of its own. Today, clickbait is used by practically all news portals.
Israel is no exception. Clickbait now appears almost daily on our main news portals such as Ynet, Mako and NRG.
Here are a few headline examples from Israeli digital newspapers and news portals which will help identify clickbait headlines and pictures. The daily Ha’aretz: “[Chef] Meir Adoni drowns Caesarea in oil”; Mako news portal: “Glass coffin was found under a house with a chilling finding in it”; Walla news portal: “Porn star fan of Bibi Netanyahu”; NRG news portal: “Ouch: What happened to young girls on water slide?”
But a growing number of Israelis have learned to spot clickbait, and have turned the phenomenon into a sort of humor contest.
The latest example comes from Ynet with the headline: “Faceless fish was discovered along the shores of Australia.” The item itself reports on a deep-sea fish discovered by an Australian expedition. The fish itself was discovered back in 1873, and the supposed faceless creature has a face, albeit not of the common kind. “It has neither distinct eyes nor nose, and its mouth, well,” says Ynet, “it’s on the lower part.” This piece of news is practically worthless apart from the clicks it generates.
This piece of “news” attracted some well deserved comments. Here are some of them: “Is this a kosher fish?”; “How could this fish have a stinky head.”; “It looks like one of the Meretz party [extreme left] voters.”; “Why did you kill it, morons?”; “This is probably a piece of wreckage from the Malaysian airplane [that went missing].”
Some of the comments on such clickbait “news” items are so funny that people are now looking for them, and in so doing are playing right into the hands of those designing them. Nevertheless, clickbait has become a good source of humor for bored employees and students.