Monday, February 23, 2015

Holy Mother of Clickbait

I read Mother Jones sometimes. Oh hell, full disclosure: I subscribe to the print version, but I'm increasingly annoyed by their choice of words to entice people to read articles from Facebook. Sometimes, it's borderline irresponsible, but others... well, it's just downright irresponsible.

This is what I saw on Facebook earlier:

What the actual fuck, MJ? Acidification is not "terrifying." Well, yes it is... sorta.

This is precisely why this headline is problematic, it's not inaccurate, but it is sensationalist. The actual article is reasonable reporting on a real issue, with a much more responsible headline:

What? I thought we were talking about oceans of flesh-melting acids? Obviously too much acidity or basicity in an aquatic environment will kill aquatic life. I don't deny this, and plan to write about it myself. The Facebook clickbait, however, was over the line for a responsible new organization. Again, it's not that what they described should be below our concern, but using the horror-movie properties of acids to spur pageviews is over the line. Mother Jones needs to stop using cheesy social network marketing tactics if it wants to continue being considered a responsible news organization.

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