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WHAT? New Study Reveals Clickbait Titles Are Over-Hyped!

It looks like clickbait headlines’ effectiveness has dipped with time. As per a study at Penn State’s Media Effects Laboratory and Institute of Computational and Data Sciences, saying that clickbait headlines perform better than regular headlines might not be completely true.

For those of you unaware, clickbait titles refer to headlines that are crafted in a way that causes the readers’ curiosity to get the best of them, encouraging them to click or tap.

Let’s come back to the aforementioned study in which two consecutive experiments were conducted. In these experiments, around 150-250 respondents were tasked with reading one out of eight headlines (both regular and clickbait). The purpose of this test was to check if the participants would go ahead and read the article or share the story later.

The first experiment relied on AI to fetch numerous headlines categorized as clickbait from both trustworthy and untrustworthy news sites. The second experiment involved headlines revolving around a single political subject.

As per the team behind this study, their clickbait headlines were defined by seven main traits such as lists, questions, demonstrative adjectives such as “this” & “that,” the “W” words such as “what” and “when,” positive superlatives such as “best” and “top,” negative superlatives such as “worst” and “least,” or modals such as “could” or “should.”

When the tests were said and done, it was found out that clickbait titles didn’t outperform the regular headlines by a considerable margin. Some authors state that the recent surge in clickbait could be the reason why people don’t view it as that special of a thing anymore.

Penn State professor, S. Shyam Sundar didn’t agree with the idea that solving the clickbait problem could get us closer to finding a solution to the fake news problem that has become a grave concern over the decades. According to the studies he has been a part of, fake news could be a completely different monster. As for clickbait, it might be way too complicated than initially believed to be.

And this curiosity surrounding clickbait has prompted researchers to assess the effectiveness of AI systems when it comes to catching clickbait. The findings reveal that AIs repeatedly butted heads over concluding whether a title was clickbait or not, reaching the same judgment only 47% of the time.

This might be an indication that the AIs must constantly adapt. Sundar said it’s possible that fake news writers have figured out the features that the detectors identify as fake news. Therefore, it’s highly important for the detection mechanisms to keep on evolving as well. He labeled it a “cat-and-mouse game.”

Credit: VladSt / Getty Images

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