CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR
Rewind to 2006: you’re looking for a new episode on this new video site called YouTube. You find the video, that looks likeexactly what you’re looking but, and after you click on it Rick Astly starts singing. You have just been clickbaited and RickRolled and thus began a long tradition of clickbait on youtube.
When opening up the world of YouTube, there are a variety of videos that you can watch. All of a sudden, you see a video about someone surviving a near-death experience, a video with a shocking image that you just have to see. Then when you click on, the video turns out to not be nearly as dramatic as you hoped. Clickbaiting is misleading because it leads to unfulfilled expectations.
Recently, people are having an issue with the YouTube community using the clickbait tactic in order to get more views and subscribers. It started with a video trend called “story time,” where people would share their personal experiences; however, the video titles would be over-exaggerated and not match their descriptions.
Benedict Townsend, reporter for a YouTube community website’ We the Unicorns, wrote about when the controversy surrounding clickbait started in his article “YouTube fans are DONE with clickbait.” He said that the videos started it all were published (posted) in 2014 when people would name their videos something sexual like “My first time” when the video had nothing to do with sex.
“Established creators have begun to use clickbait to boost their content — or to hide the true nature of the video. As an example, we have recently discussed how YouTubers have been getting in hot water for making announcement videos but framing them so that they look like coming out videos,” said Townsend. It now seems that clickbaiting is focused more on the anticipation of promoting the video rather than the actual content, this means we the viewers derive less enjoyment from these videos.
Before viewers fully watch such a video, some try to scroll around to find out what the person is actually going to do or say rather than watch the entire thing and feel letdown.
Although some YouTubers may use this solely to get more viewers, surprisingly some of the attention-grabbing events actually happened to them. YouTuber Gabrielle Hanna’s channel “The Gabbie Show” is about comedic skits and insane stories about growing up. Hanna titles her videos in all capitals and gives them over-the-top thumbnails. Some of her videos indeed fall under the clickbait category, such as a video posed last year titled, “THE REASON I’M GETTING A NOSE JOB.” In this video, she does not talk about getting a nose job but instead reads a hateful letter that someone sent her about her nose. Viewers posted positive comments on the video and did not seem to mind that she had clickbaited her viewers.
Hanna later posted a video on Snapchat where she said, “I don’t clickbait my videos. All of them have facts.” This was true when it came to her “story time” videos, which have titles that can fall under the category of clickbaiting but are really legitimate stories. An example is a video Hanna posted early in February titled, “DO NOT SUPPORT THIS WEBSITE! (TEXTS/EMAILS/VOICE NOTES/RECEIPTS),” in which she rants about a horrible experience with a t-shirt company that helps make shirts for YouTubers who are going on tour.
If YouTubers such as Hanna are going to base their channels and content on actual stories and the description matches what the video is about them, that is what makes the video worth watching and not click bait.
Although no one in the YouTube community has commented on how they are going to prevent this misleading problem, there are certain solutions to avoid click baiting. One is for people to put (Not clickbait) or “watch till the end” in the title of their videos so the viewer knows that the video will be about whatever the content is. Another option is to not have an over-the-top title. For someone who is subscribed to multiple YouTubers, there are times when I debate whether to click on the video or try to scroll to find the topic. If the video is about the title that is associated with it, then people will watch the video.
Whether you take the bait or not, the YouTube community is a world of unknown content and we have the choice to either watch or to continue scrolling to watch another video to enjoy.