Clickbait is a negative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines or eye-catching thumbnail pictures to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material via social media.

Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the “curiosity gap,” providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content. Sometimes, clickbait articles fail to deliver the promise that was held in their headline, which leads to distrust of the brand, website, or person sharing that piece of content.

There are certain types of headlines that are indicative of clickbait, for example:

  • You Won’t Believe What Ronald Reagan Did When He Was in Air Force One
  • Brad Pitt’s Annual Income Will Shock You
  • You’ll Never Guess Who Hates the Easter Bunny

And so on.

Websites known for propagating clickbait include Buzzfeed and Upworthy.

Any website that relies on clickbait for website traffic should have their editors locked in an iron drum and sent over Niagara Falls.