The trust and accuracy of modern media has waned over the years into today’s modern age. This is due to articles and websites posting headlines to get people’s attention in attempts for their website or article to get clicks this is known as “clickbaiting”. Along with clickbait there is also a large amount of “fake news” being published and released into the modern media landscape which has plagued media consumers ability to find reliable news sources. This is due to publishers and programmers playing on people’s gullibility. Media Consumers nowadays are too trusting in the information that is available to them via the internet, this trust from consumers that is put into misleading headlines and information has helped fuel the falling trust of media and nurtured the spread of inaccurate information on the internet. Social media plays a large factor in clickbait and other fake news in the modern media being so effectively spread. Researches have shown that people are not very good at detecting deception which leads to why the modern media landscape is in such disarray.
Through the sharing process we have become self-recorders of the important; self-pro-claimed experts, often unwittingly egged on by powerful technology platforms that provide a seemingly free public good. It is a collaborative, process, with ‘clickbaiting’ at its core (O’Brien). What is clickbait? Clickbait is self-explanatory, it is something that baits you into clicking on it (Tomar). Clickbait by definition is described as a headline or the leading words of a social media post (the teaser message) written to attract attention and encourage visitors to click the link to a different longer story on a web page. Clickbait offers different, amazing, and overexaggerating phrases that induce curiosity, and entice people to want to know more. Clickbait relies on creating a “curiosity gap,” which serves as an online cliffhanger of sorts that poses headlines that pique your curiosity and lead you to click the link and read on (UCSB). The gap between what we know and what we want to know, is what compels us to click. To an extent, the more ridiculous the teaser message is, leads to how successful clickbait can be (UCSB). Clickbait, is effective due to baiting and switching, this where a curiosity grabbing headline which baits you into clicking on the article, then once you’ve been fooled into clicking it switches to something unrelated to the headline which lured you in. An example of this would be a headline that reads “Guess which stars died way too young” (Tomar). Clickbaiting on its face is pretty obvious, its manipulating but you know you’re being manipulated. For the person who writes the clickbait article the key is to manipulate in a way that appeals to the readers curiosity (Tomar). Media Consumers are being fooled by their curiosity being online, this has led to a rift in their belief of what they see on the internet. Media Consumers nowadays are too trusting of the article titles and information they are seeing and interacting with online. Clickbait contributes to this trust in false information due to its help in the spread of fake news.
Fake news by definition is defined as “news articles that are intentionally and verifiably false” designed to manipulate people’s perceptions of real facts, events, and statements. Fake news is information that is presented as news that is known by its promoter to be false based on facts that are demonstrably incorrect, or statements or events that verifiably did not happen (USCB). Fake news can also be defined as “fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but…lacking the news media’s editorial norms and processes for ensuring the accuracy and credibility of information” (UCSB). Fake news is synonymous with misinformation which is false or misleading information, it also correlates with disinformation which is false information purposely spread to mislead people (UCSB). Fake news is spread in a lot of ways, clickbait is a way that fake news is spread. Clickbait helps spread fake news by using the same tactics, they both use tactics which prey on a readers curiosity to draw them in. Both clickbait and fake news are being increasingly spread around due to people being gullible enough to baited into clicking on these articles. Clickbait motivates further reading, instantly, and this further reading helps promote advertising for website publishers, which is why it is such a widespread and popular practice. Fake news headlines also often look this way, which is they way they did with the fake news peddled by tabloids and the era of yellow journalism (UCSB). Media consumers nowadays are being challenged by all the misleading information being put into the internet and they are finding it more difficult to find accurate sources in which they can trust.
Trust itself is characterized by a certain measure of vulnerability, however, that vulnerability is mediated in today’s world through technology, and, thus, communication is “depersonalized” (Tenopir). Social media is also a large contributor into the spread of clickbait and fake news.
The manipulation of public opinion via social media platforms has emerged as a critical issue facing contemporary digital society (Bradshaw & Howard). These actions serve to nudge public opinion, set political or media agendas, censor freedom of speech, or control the flow of information online (Bradshaw & Howard). Social media plays a crucial role into the spread of misleading information, with click bait and fake news being all over todays social media platforms. We live in a time where interaction between people of different cultures and languages is at an all-time high, due in part to an increase in the availability of information and communication technologies (Mercier). Communication between these cultures can be difficult, and with intentionally deceptive information being put out this can cause more serious problems (George). As the information available to news consumers has increased largely in recent decades, many Americans believe the media is becoming harder to dictate between what is true and what is false (Jones & Ritter). Information on the internet is no longer limited to a finite number of publishers whose role as gatekeepers of knowledge have remained virtually the same in online and traditional publications (Coleman). Inside this new media terrain, anyone can be a publisher as well as a consumer of information. This introduces complex issues of trust and authority for consumers and researchers (Tenopir). Many Americans are now likely to say it is difficult to filter out the facts in news reporting than they were in the past fifty percent of U.S. adults believe that, despite current media bias it is still difficult to determine what is really true and what is fake. (Jones & Ritter). The very nature of the digital environment, places even more importance on trust as a characteristic. Nowadays professionals such as librarians, publishers, and editors are no longer “vouching” for most of this web information, and now the individual’s reliance on his own judgment is more important than ever. Self?reliance has created a special kind of crisis in information evaluation because most individuals tend to place to much confident in themselves and that they have more skill in evaluation than they may actually have (Tenopir). According to a study many Americans are now less confident now than they were in the past due to the fact that many people can’t sort out the facts in news stories, because of their increased perceptions of bias in news reporting (Kohring & Matthes). Rather than helping citizens by making more media sources available to the public, many Americans see this increase in more available information making matters worse, presumably because there is more news, much of it fake and biased being very difficult to sort through. (Jones & Ritter). Americans’ are more skeptical than ever discerning to media bias and it is truly difficult to filter through fake news and real news which has caused an erosion in media trust. (Jones & Ritter). The disdain against our institutions seeps across all sectors. From business to government, charitable bodies to media, Fake news, which that master manipulator Orson Welles reminds us, is as old as the Garden of Eden, is emblematic of the age: the corruption of knowledge (O’Brien).
All of these factors are partially to blame for today’s distrust and inaccuracy of the modern media. Social media, fake news, clickbaiting, and people’s gullibility to feed into all of these sources are some of the main factors to blame. These are the main contributors to the spreading of information that is created with the sole purpose of being misleading. These are also some of the main contributing factors in today’s modern media problems. Each of these factors contribute to each other, with social media having clickbait which is a huge contributor into the spread of fake news by preying on media consumer’s gullibility to spread false information and misleading headlines. It is up to us as media consumer to educate ourselves in these tactics being used against us to cause a distrust in media and we should make sure future generations learn how to spot out these fake news outlets and learn how to discern which information should be trusted and which information should be ignored. By educating ourselves on what clickbait and fake news are and how they operate, and are used to target the media consumer, we should be able to become more intelligent media consumers, and not fall into these misleading media traps. It is up to us the modern media consumers of today to make sure that the accuracy and trust of modern media is restored into what it should be, and not let the misleading fake information continue to spread. We are responsible for the next step.
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