Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lying clickbait: Pretty ladies edition

Lots of lying clickbait articles use photos of pretty ladies to get men to click on sponsored links. It’s a honeypot and the photos are a ruse.
Here are some recent examples.
A Taboola-sponsored link titled “Old camera dug up near a WWII battlefield in Europe shows us a different side of the war” uses a photo of a fetching young lady in uniform.
Everything in that headline is wrong. The photo is one of a series of pictures taken by David Woolley. They’re certainly not historical.

A sponsored post from Outbrain titled “12 mysterious photos that cannot be explained” features a photo of a buxom blonde. The photo is actually very easy to explain: It’s a picture of late Playboy bunny and actress Dorothy Stratten.

A promoted link by Taboola advertised “50 rarely seen historical photos that will leave you speechless.” It features a photo of actress Goldie Hawn taken by Robert Erdmann. This photo is hardly rarely seen. It’s prominently featured on Erdmann’s own website.

A Taboola link headlined “Long-lost mobster photos that will make your skin crawl” features a man embracing a pretty young woman on the beach.
The photo was apparently taken in the late 1940s or early 1950s in San Diego. The grandson of the man in the picture posted it to Reddit. No mob connection.

Yet another clickbait article on Yahoo Finance promised “Long lost mob photos that are hideous.” What is it with lying clickbait articles about mobsters, circus freaks and old cameras found with undeveloped photos in them?
Anyway, this article uses a photo that isn’t old or mob-related. It was taken in 2015 backstage at a lingerie fashion show by Secrets in Lace. (See article and photos by Un-covered.)

Many sponsored links about new rules and regulations are customized to the town you live in. But they often feature photos of bikini-clad women not taken anywhere near you.
Here are two examples.
I can’t identify where the photo of the two handcuffed girls in the back of a police squad car was taken. But it certainly wasn’t Great Falls, Va.

A photo of a pretty black girl in handcuffs was taken in May 2013 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (See articles by the New York Daily News and the Daily Mail.) It definitely was not taken in Great Falls, Va., or Portsmouth, N.H.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lying clickbait part of fake news trend

The issue of fake news being disseminated on Facebook and elsewhere online has been a major topic of conversation since the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump as president.
But false information online is nothing new.
For example, Snopes.com was created in 1995 as a resource to validate or debunk items being circulated through viral email, internet rumors and other means.
Now people are creating fake news websites that use clickbait headlines on social media to drive online traffic and generate advertising revenue.
Similar to this, content distribution services like Taboola, Revcontent and Outbrain often use deceptive photos and headlines with sponsored links. I’ve been documenting this fraudulent activity for some time.
Here are some more recent examples.
Taboola recently shared a sponsored link to an article titled “The worst people to have ever walked our Earth.” It featured a photo of a menacing man in a fascist military uniform.
But the photo is of late actor Raul Julia portraying a villain in the movie “Street Fighter” (1994), not a real character.

Another article titled “A 72-year-old woman can’t believe her 4-day transformation.” It used a photo of supermodel Heidi Klum when she wore makeup to portray an old lady for Halloween in 2013. (Hat tip to Ella ‏@ellagb1675 on Twitter.)

In my reporting on lying clickbait, I’ve come across many examples of content promotion services trying to pass off movie stills as non-fiction.
Here are a few examples.
Taboola sponsored a link to an article titled “Vintage circus freaks that will give you nightmares.” The promoted article includes a photo of actress Olga Baclanova in makeup as a character from the 1932 horror movie “Freaks.”

Another Taboola sponsored link, possibly to the same article, was titled “70 outrageous circus freaks from the past.” It used digital artwork by Jeffery Scott called “A Modern Day Sagittarian.”

An article titled “Camera found in iceberg that sank the Titanic with film still inside” used a photo from the 1997 movie “Titanic.” A similar article used a photo from the 1943 movie “Titanic.”

Here are a few more examples that I’ve previously noted.
“Goodbye Melissa – You will be missed” implies that actress Melissa McCarthy is dead. She’s not.

The article titled “The longest celebrity marriages of all time” uses a photo of actors Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood from the movie “Brainstorm” (1983). The two were never married in real life.

And the article titled “After losing 200 lbs. Rebel Wilson is actually gorgeous!” uses a Photoshopped picture of Wilson. She never lost that kind of weight.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Google Plus Collections: An interesting pivot

Google’s attempt to copy Facebook with Google Plus wasn’t successful. But its recent shift to make Google Plus an aggregation service is a smart one.
With Google Plus Collections, anyone can easily create a specialized online site devoted to their passions and share them with the world. Users can create collections of weblinks, photos and other media around topics like travel, nature, technology and pop culture.
Google Plus Collections satisfies a need people have to aggregate and collect things of interest in one place. It’s the same need that has driven Pinterest.
Google Plus needs a better way to explore its collections, perhaps by categorizing them for easier perusal. But it’s off to a good start.
I’ve created Google Plus Collections around Rihanna, robots and other themes.

Photos: Pop singer Rihanna (top) and Google Plus Collections page.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Playboy doesn’t speak to men today; online rivals do

Years ago men would joke that they read Playboy magazine for the articles.
But aside from tasteful nude photographs of beautiful women, the content of Playboy didn’t appeal to that many men. The magazine was built around the passions of its founder, Hugh Hefner, so there were lots of articles about jazz music and cocktails.
But for modern guys who like rock music and beer, Playboy was appealing only for the naked ladies. Take away that, as the magazine did last spring, and you’ve got little to recommend to guys.
Now Playboy is just like Maxim in the twilight of the lad mags. And magazine readership is in decline.
So now young men turn to online publishers like Arsenic and Thrillist for interesting editorial content.
Playboy looked into buying Arsenic last spring but those efforts weren’t successful. Arsenic is an upstart media company that crowdsources images of sexy women and posts them on Instagram and Snapchat.
Thrillist is another digital media property that’s drawing an audience that Playboy covets: millennial men. Its coverage areas include travel, food and drink, tech products and entertainment. Like other disparaged digital media sites it has a lot of listicles and clickbaity headlines. But the content is approachable and engaging, aimed at mainstream men, not metrosexuals, foodies, connoisseurs and the like.

Photos: Women posing for Arsenic Magazine on Instagram.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Playboy might backtrack on no-nudes stance

Playboy magazine made a big deal about its business decision to stop printing nude pictorials starting with its March 2016 issue.
Now word is circulating that the company that owns Playboy magazine is for sale and the new owners might bring back pictures of naked ladies in the print edition.
Playboy management has said its move away from full frontal nudity has increased the magazine’s advertising and newsstand reach. But it also broke with its long tradition, dating back to its first issue in 1953, which featured naked pictures of actress Marilyn Monroe, of presenting naked pictures of famous women.
The first nude-free issue of Playboy featured Instagram-famous model Sarah McDaniel as its cover model.
Ironically, five months later, McDaniel posed nude for Treats! magazine.
Playboy has gotten press from some of its recent pictorials, but the coverage seems to be trading off Playboy’s past reputation not its current status.
For instance, for the first time, Playboy featured a woman wearing a hijab in its October issue. Playboy interviewed and photographed 22-year-old Muslim-American journalist Noor Tagouri for the issue.
This would not be controversial at all, expect for the fact that Playboy used to post nude pictures. (See articles by USA Today, CNN, AFP and the Daily Mail.)
And actress Bella Thorne appeared in the November issue for a pictorial.
That would have been big news when Playboy posted nude pictorials, but not now. Now it just competes with Maxim and other men’s magazines for non-nude sexy pictures of famous women.
The old Playboy also would have been first in line to bid on recently surfaced nude photos of smoking hot actress and model Emily Ratajkowski. (See article by the Daily Mail.)
It remains to be seen whether Playboy will go back to nudes. But judging from its magazine covers lately, Playboy is pushing the no-nudes thing as far as it can, with photos showing side boob, under boob, cleavage and butt cheeks.
Meanwhile, foreign editions of Playboy continue to feature full-frontal nudity. (See article by Quartz.)

Photos: Playboy issues from June, September and November 2016.

Related reading:

Are naked pictures returning to Playboy? Hugh Hefner is replaced at the magazine by his son who blasted no-nudity policy when it was announced (Daily Mail)

Harry Sloan and Jeff Sagansky in Talks to Acquire Playboy (THR)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Media reaction to Trump’s election based on magazine covers

Last month, I wrote an article about how the media were portraying Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in their magazine covers. The covers were mostly negative, portraying Trump as a bigot, a fascist and an unstable person.
Most media organizations, except for Investor’s Business Daily, didn’t think Trump had a prayer of winning the election. Magazine covers about Trump ahead of the election were largely fearmongering.
Check out the covers from the Orlando Weekly, the Big Issue (U.K.) and De Volkskrant (Netherlands) from right before the Nov. 8 election.

After Republican Trump won the election, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton, some media organizations took a conciliatory tone. Time, Newsweek and People played it straight and unbiased.

Others continued to bash the controversial figure.
The New Yorker magazine responded to Trump’s victory with shock and horror. New York magazine accepted a grim new reality.

The foreign press was blunt in its criticism of Trump’s election.
Adbusters (Canada) portrayed Trump’s victory as an FU to the office.
Der Spiegel (Germany) pictured Trump’s head as a comet headed straight to Earth with the headline “Das ende der welt (wie wir sie kennen)” or “The end of the world (as we know it.).”
Liberation (France) portrayed Trump as a shadowy figure with the headline “American Psycho.”
The Guardian (U.K.) pictured a victorious Trump with the headline “Will Trump destroy America?”
Time will tell.