10 reasons to cull insidious clickbait that create cyber risks, bad social phenomena, and distrust.

Clickbait is everywhere. They are usually ads or marketing content with irresistible headlines.

“She picks this off the ground and watch what happens!”
“Bankers don’t want you to know this $1m secret, now I KNOW WHY”
“12 facts about investments that will send you into shock”

Many of the headlines pique our curiosity or sense of naughtiness during a moment of boredom. We know not to expect much from clicking into the story or main ad content, but we do it anyway.

Clickbait used to be an innocent marketing technique to attract more click-throughs so that websites could at least earn a tiny bit of income for providing free content and services. However, over the decades, cybercriminals have caught on to their popularity. Now, many phishing campaigns make use of clickbait headlines to lure potential victims.

Why the world should start fearing clickbait
By now, anyone would have heard of spam, phishing, spear phishing and ransomware, three terms that have become household words due to the skyrocketing rate of cybercrime, fraud, scams and semi-legal advertisements on the internet.

The latest word that should join this wordlist is clickbait. Here are 10 reasons to stop clicking on catchy, naughty headlines accompanied by fascinating pictorials:

    1. It is rife with cyber risks
      Even if the article linked to the clickbait is rewarding and legitimate, it may contain the real agenda: a phishing advertisement linked to the content.
    2. By the time you get scammed, it is already too late
      Publishing firms cannot and seldom check the legality and morality of online advertisements hosted on their web content. Clicking into a titillating headline such as “This pill is 10x better and cheaper than [name of any powerful drug]” by the time the readers complain to the publisher, many readers could have already been victimized.
    3. A great target for hijacking by the worst offenders
      Even with the purest of intentions, a legitimate website may innocently host clickbait ads that are also harmless. Now, with malware floating around that is capable of hijacking ads to inject malicious links or spyware, trojans or keyloggers, readers are more at risk than ever. So guess which types of ads will cybercriminals target for hijacking?
    4. The more interactive it is, the worse the cyber risk
      The more interactive the content that is linked to clickbait headlines, the more cyber risk is involved. For example, some people love clicking on quizzes and polls in clickbait. This involves advanced software code could eventually harbor malicious activity. Actually, victims can catch a virus without even clicking on anything in a scam quiz—just by loading a malicious website via clickbait links is enough!
    5. Malicious scammers cover all the bases to convince their victims
      Some of the most advanced clickbait scam content
      today is so convincing, it can and will cause you to lose money eventually. The perpetrators generate fake news and reviews all over the internet to provide support for a scam product that you see in a clickbait article and want to research on. Their mastery of Search Engine Optimization, browser hijacking and social media techniques means that usually, people stop hunting for answers and just commit to a trial purchase. Only to find out the hard way that the “no-questions-asked money-back guarantees” are full of caveats and implied terms and conditions.
    6. A ruinous habit that makes people take honesty and integrity for granted
      Continually making a habit of reading clickbait can inculcate a pleasurable sense of gratification in some internet junkies, no doubt. However, just as the global authorities took only half-hearted attempts to put an end to spam emails (which cybercriminals have now weaponized to create the ransomware and phishing debacles of today), clickbait is another scourge of the internet that no one should support anymore. Don’t let clickbait fester into what email spam finally culminated into.
    7. Clickbait content firms are already tainting the Internet!
      Content creation firms specializing in clickbait content have done very well, making hundreds of millions through the years and counting. You do not see any need to add to their success, especially since you are on your own if one of their articles cost you your lifesavings.
    8. The bad drives out the good!
      This adage reminds us that clickbait works very well at appealing to the basest human instincts of greed, curiosity, depravity, vengeance and thirst for fame. If we abuse it for short-term monetary gain, the long-term result would be a dilution of quality content and communication—which can have a profoundly negative impact on the morality and ethicality of future generations.
    9. Too much of a fun thing makes it bad
      In the past, click-baiting techniques, when used judiciously and sparingly in almost any use case, added an air of casualness and spicy interactions in online communities. However, in a world of impressionable young keyboard warriors and social media addicts of all ages, click-baiting has and will send the wrong message to the world. For all we know, the fake news phenomenon could have been the result of rampant acceptance and proliferation of clickbait content. Please stop normalizing clickbaiting NOW.
    10. The poor choice to adopt clickbait could lead to reader attrition and severe loss of trust
      Many established media organizations that had previously encountered existential difficulties in running their businesses had resorted to partnerships with clickbait content specialists. While this could have led to more site visitors and click-throughs, it would probably have irked readers who despised the cheap visual and editorial tricks in such content, thereby causing them to boycott the main website and nullifying the original intent of adopting clickbait partnerships in the first place.

There you go. With so much attention being paid to phishing and ransomware now in employee training, frequent public-service announcements and pamphlets, clickbait — whether it is in the form of a video clip, social media story, forum chat message or email — should become the next target for media legislators, educators, marketers and content management authorities.