Monday, May 16, 2016
The rise of lying click-bait photos with promoted articles
Unscrupulous content-sharing services are promoting articles on their sites using deceitful photos. Rather than attract traffic with just an interesting headline these services are attaching photos that don’t represent the articles. The combination of the interesting headline and a head-scratcher of a photo probably increases the likelihood that someone will click on the weblink.
This is wrong and websites that use such promoted articles need to hold the service providers accountable. If they are caught using such tactics, the services should be banned. Plain and simple.
Let me provide some examples.
I’ve seen a host of articles about dead celebrities that use a photo of a live celebrity as click bait. (Sample headlines: “These Celebrities Committed Suicide In 2016,” “30 Child Actors Who Didn’t Make It To 30” and “23 Hollywood Stars Who Died Tragically Young.”)
Live celebrities alleged to be deceased in the photos include Angus T. Jones, star of “Two and a Half Men”; Erik Per Sullivan, star of “Malcolm in the Middle”; and Macaulay Culkin, star of the “Home Alone” movies.
These promoted articles probably use photos of live celebrities to spur clicks because a reader will think “I didn’t know so-and-so was dead.” Well, it turns out, they’re aren’t.
Photos with promoted articles on transgender celebrities have wrongly implicated celebrities who are not transgender, such as singer Pink.
One frequent click-bait article includes side-by-side photos of actress Julia Stiles and actor Ansel Elgort. The pairing implies that Stiles is now Elgort post-op.
Other times the creators of these promoted stories will throw in a miscellaneous celebrity photo and hope for curiosity clicks.
For instance, a story titled “Megyn Kelly Was Afraid To Face Donald Trump During Feud” uses a photo of sports broadcaster Erin Andrews instead.
One bad thing about these photos being erroneously used with articles is that it perpetuates falsehoods online. If you do a reverse photo search on Google for the photos they use, you’ll get links to those stories that they shouldn’t be associated with.
So, the Julia Stiles photo is linked with transgender celebrity articles and the Erin Andrews photo is linked to a bunch of Megyn Kelly stories.
Then there are promoted stories about historical photos that are anything but.
One such article, “Rarely Seen Historical Photos Are Very Unnerving,” uses a black-and-white photo that appears to show President John F. Kennedy slumped over after being shot in Dallas.
This is not an historic photo but a picture from a reenactment for a TV movie. (See articles by UPI and Snopes.)
Another promoted article, “23 Unreal Photos Taken Before Most Tragic Moments In History,” uses a sepia-toned photo of a sexy lady with big boobs. Actually, it’s not very historic, unless you’re documenting epic side boob exposure.
An uncropped, color version of the photo appears in pictorials of sexy women on websites like the Chive. (A reverse image search on TinEye found that one.)