Clickbait usually lives at the bottom of a webpage and is contained in a box like the one above. The sole purpose of the clickbait chum box is to entice you to click on one of the scintillating headlines to visit an external site that is typically filled with advertising, mindless surveys, or lists of lists. Clickbait is generated by an ever-growing number of purveyors such as ZergNet, OutBrain, and Taboola, and it is often used host to fake news and other general unpleasantries.
Clickbait headlines are constructed in such a way as to pique your curiosity and evoke an emotional response. They are designed to give you just enough information to make you wonder what else could possibly be revealed if you just clicked. They provide you with very little about the actual content of the article. Clickbait is often accompanied by a photo that may have little relation to the actual story and is intended to capture your attention. Here are eight of the most common clickbait traps you can share with your students or post in your classroom.
From Consumer to Producer: Create Clickbait for a Historical Event
To defeat the challenge of the clickbait chum box, we are going to try and beat the Fake News Boss at its own game. Have your students create a list of potential clickbait headlines for a historical event. For example, a story about Rosa Parks might have the clickbait headline, “I never thought riding the bus would make me so angry.” “Two bicycle repairmen in Kitty Hawk will change the way you think about travel” could be a clickbait headline for a story about Orville and Wilbur Wright. Finally a rather distasteful (but totally something a middle school gifted kid would com up with) clickbait headline for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln might read “This man went to see a play, and what happened next blew his mind!”
To get started, you might begin by providing an historical event or time period for your students. This will help them to focus their creative energies rather than trying to deal with all of history. Next, in small groups have them brainstorm with at least 10 separate headlines. Working together may spur their thinking. Encourage them to build off of each other's ideas. Then, have the groups share their headlines with the class to see which ones are the most compelling and would potentially garner the most clicks. Finally, have students create a slide, meme, or social media post that includes an image to accompany the clickbait headline.
By having students construct their own clickbait, the hope is that they will be more aware of clickbait when they see it, and if they do click on it, that they will proceed with caution and skepticism before simply believing everything that they read.
Encourage your students to post their creations on social media using the hashtags #FightingFakeNews #HistoricalClickbait or post them in the comment section. Here are some of my favorites that have been created so far.