In the last few weeks, I’ve become aware of what appears to be an online trend approaching tsunami strength. I’m referring to hyped headers that tease you into clicking through to what turns out to be, at best, nothing special and, at worst, advertising.
I began noticing this type of spam a few months ago. It’s probably been going on longer than that but did not catch my attention until it reached a higher level.
For an example, I’m using what was on CNN’s main page on January 1. There were 15 “read This, Watch That” entries that day. Many of them were teasing questions. One of them was “Will This Put An End To Football?” How ridiculous is that? NOTHING will put an end to football in this country, yet apparently someone thought there’d be enough folks who might take that header at face value to click through.
Another question was “Best Win Ever on Wheel of Fortune?” Now that one is more plausible, because “best” is very subjective. That very subjectivity allows them to use the headline and then defend it against criticism that it is hype.
Looking at the rest of the 15 entries, I consider seven of them as hype. Most of them are appealing to readers’ curiosity. Examples include: “Why Is This ATM in the Middle of a Field?” and “Guess Who’s Engaged?”
Of course, if every header was a question, folks would tune them all out. So some are written in a different way. Such as “Couple Wanted PS4, Got This Instead.” And, “Hero Dog Saves Couple For This.”
But I’m not a very curious person about these types of things. I don’t give a rodent’s anus about Wheel of Fortune, ATM locations, engagements of folks I don’t know, gaming consoles, or even hero dogs. Just not interested.
For the sake of research, I did click through on one header: “The Gmail Secret Google Doesn’t Want You To Know.” The obvious question is: “If it’s a “secret” then how the heck do these folks know?”
Well, guess what? That’s right, it’s nothing but an advertisement for a Gmail extension called “boomerang” that allows you to write an e-mail now and schedule it for delivery at a later date. And this program is such a big secret that you can find it on Google’s Chrome web browser store. So the header about Google not wanting you to know about it is a lie.
I’m retired, so I have lots of time on my hands. I have to wonder about working folks who waste the little free time they do have to check this spam out. Maybe they are like slot machine addicts. They keep clicking, hoping to “win” by getting to something that actually matters. And since Vegas has done well from slot players, the spammers must be getting enough clicks to warrant what they’re doing.
You may have heard the saying: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” As the ‘60’s band The Who sing: “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
That’s my rant for 2015…