Until about a month ago I was not aware of having heard the word “clickbait”, but I was already aware of what it represented. If you’re as un-internet-speak savvy as me I’ll explain with a few examples:
…what he saw next blew his mind”, “…but she NEVER expected this”, “the 10 most amazing life-hacks you didn’t know you didn’t know”.
These are links to fuller stories, or videos, that try to bait you into clicking by a mixture of hyperbole, misrepresentation, withholding of information and downright lies. There is some discussion as to what exactly represents “clickbait” but I’d sum it up as any link that deliberately withholds vital information on what will follow when that information could easily have been included in the link.
I hate these links for a myriad of reasons. When I initially caught on to them I was annoyed at having been duped for some time into clicking on links to articles and videos that I am not remotely interested in reading or viewing. I was annoyed that it had taken so long for it to click that I really was a worm on their marketing hook.
Theft is wrong. Most – although by no means all – of us can agree on that. We have an instinctive feel for what this means at the basic level; if someone owns something we shouldn’t take it from them if they don’t want us to. The law backs this up too; the most basic definition of theft under UK law tells us “A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.” I doubt that the laws of most other countries significantly deviate from this.
So why do we hear so much of people “stealing” intellectual property on the internet; music, books, film, software, it seems that little that can be sent down a fibre optic cable is sacrosanct. If you know how, it is relatively easy to avoid paying for such items on the internet – certainly much easier than it would be to enter a shop and take the physical copy of these items. So has society lost its way? Has the spirit of morality died? I don’t think so. I believe that many people who might download a copy of their favourite movie for free if they came across it online would be shocked at the thought of going into a music shop and walking out with a DVD in hand unpaid for, so something else is clearly going on here.