How to Seek the Truth and Avoid Clickbait

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More than once I have shared my angst about the sensationalist format of many websites.  These sites use catchy photos that have nothing to do with the article, pop-up reminders that come right back after clicking them closed, and/or fear-mongering headlines that use scare tactics to persuade you to purchase an overpriced, marginally useful video course or 30 page eBook.

Why do they do this?  The more traffic they generate, the more likely that unsuspecting readers will click on a network ad and generate income for the website owner.

How to Seek the Truth and Avoid Clickbait - Backdoor Survival

Many of these sites steal content from legitimate, hardworking authors and, when challenged, set up hate mail campaigns to spam comments and Facebook feeds.  It is a real problem for many of us and something bloggers have to deal with day in and day out.

Recently Jim Cobb at Survival Weekly wrote an article that addresses this problem.  Many of you know Jim as a frequent participant in BDS Book Festivals.  He is prolific author of high-quality books on preparedness and has a pretty decent web site to boot.

With his permission, I want to share his article with you. If you are a seeker of truth, take heed to what he is saying and do your best to avoid clickbait.  It is important.

Avoiding Clickbait

The online world is very much a double-edged sword. I mean, we live in an age where just about any piece of information we seek is, quite literally, at our fingertips. Yet, at the same time, people are becoming less and less likely to make even the most minimal effort to obtain reliable information. Case in point – Clickbait.

Clickbait is a technique used by websites to increase their traffic. Basically, the website will come up with some sort of sensational headline, one that is sure to evoke an almost immediate, emotional response from the reader. Something like, “Obama sues trucking company for not hiring Muslim terrorists!” The headline is posted on social media along with a link to the website. The linked page typically contains very little in the way of hard facts and instead is usually a poorly researched and sometimes horribly written “article” that, from time to time, might even have little or nothing to do with the headline.

The idea behind clickbait is to accomplish two goals. First, many people will just share that post without actually reading the article. The headline is enough to incense people to the point to where they’ll post a comment and share the link. This increases the reach of the website, allowing more and more people to see that link. This serves the second goal of increasing traffic to the website. The more people who see the link, the more who will click on it. These websites make money off of your traffic through advertising. Often, the rate of pay is linked directly to the number of clicks the website generates in a given time period. The more clicks, the more money earned.

Keep in mind, too, that there really is nothing to prevent any website from posting whatever the hell it wants. Some sites, such as The Onion, specialize in parody and making their “news” look like real news. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people share links to Onion articles believing the stories to be genuine, regardless of how ridiculous the story actually is.

There is a difference, though, between parody and outright bullshit. The latter is what many websites consider to be their stock in trade. The folks running the sites don’t care that the stories posted are utter and complete fabrications. As long as the traffic numbers are high, that’s all that matters. The sad fact is, many people who read such nonsense can’t be bothered to apply even an iota of common sense to see if the story passes muster. They read it on the Internet so it must be true! So, they forward on the link to the story to every person in their address book and on their friend’s list. At least a percentage of those folks will click on the link and the circle continues on and on and on….

Preppers and survivalists often say that they believe facts about the world, the government, whatever, are being withheld from them. That conspiracies are afoot and we are in danger from Jade Helm, Planet X, New World Order, whatever. I don’t know what truth, if any, lies behind those so-called conspiracies. I do know this, though. You aren’t likely to find any real answers on a quasi-news website that is filled with clickbait.

We complain a lot about the mainstream media and how it distorts the truth. There is definitely a bias present in just about any news story that you read, see, or hear. Gone are the days of “just the facts” reporting. That said, people sometimes overlook that this applies across the board, no matter if you’re looking at a liberal or conservative news source.

Use your head for something more than just a hat rack, folks. Apply just a little logic and common sense before you buy into these sensational stories hook, line, and sinker.

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Jim Cobb is a prolific author and  friend of Backdoor Survival.  In addition to his website at www.SurvivalWeekly.com, Jim publishes a free weekly newsletter called “The Survival Dispatch”.  I invite you to sign up here.

Given the financial chaos in the world right now, you may also want to check out his book The Prepper’s Financial Guide: Strategies to Invest, Stockpile and Build Security for Today and the Post-Collapse Marketplace.  In his usual style, Jim offers tips and strategies that are both  practical, and easy to implement.

The Final Word

As time goes on, those of us that are serious about preparedness will continue to be challenged in our attempt to separate truth from lies.  What is real and what is made up?  It is bad enough that the main stream media is slanted to whitewashing reality but when the alternative media jumps in with dubious claims, where do we turn?

I don’t have any answer other than this:  take what you read online with a grain of salt.  If something does not seem right, seek out other avenues that will either validate or refute what you read.  Come to your own conclusions and most of all, don’t follow the sheep.  Be your own person and use the gray matter that sits between your ears.

There are plenty of fantastic online resources that are credible.  Todd Sepulveda’s Prepper Website is a great place to start.  Seek out the honest and forthcoming websites and support them by returning to visit them again and again.  Sign up for their newsletters and share their work.

At the end of the day, the truth will rise to the top.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

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Comments

How to Seek the Truth and Avoid Clickbait — 10 Comments

  1. Love this. It is so hard to learn what is true and what is not in today’s electronic world. I know a lot of sites that are nothing but made up stories but there are so many out there now it is hard to determine,

  2. The net is just so much “noise”. I have 2 kids, 20 and 15, and its so hard to get them unplugged and away and to think on their own. I am repeatedly shocked by the garbage they find, and I’m not even talking illicit material. My daughter has to find “reliable sources” for her college research papers – I told her that’s a loose definition even on the best of media sites. Thank you for adding your voice to those who are still keeping the truth out there.

  3. One HAS to love his writer’s heads-up piece here! I like his humor but also the very serious and informative nature of it. Thanks….very much for getting your idea across with an entertaining attitude. Really good!

  4. Dear Gaye:

    Thank you for this critically needed article. This wonderful encyclopedia at our
    fingertips is truly a double edged sword. I am learning to adapt out here from
    YOU, Emergency Essentials, Red Cross, Survival Mom and my new neighbors.
    I have innocently “clicked” on websites with shots fired, buy this now, and how any
    number of ethnic minorities are taking over, ad nasum.
    Journalism has a check list too. Sift through glittering generalities, bandwagon, testimonials,scapegoat, more. The worst that is dividing U.S. even more is the HALF TRUTH.For example, “By his executive order Pres.Obama will take your food, tractors and ration gas.”I looked up the number. It was during the cold war giving the Sec. of Agriculture broad powers during a food shortage and signed by Pres. Kennedy, 1962.
    Remember a half truth is a half lie. Thank you.

    Your Calif.preppy learning to be a prepper.

  5. Thanks for posting Jim Cobb’s article. It is so true that there is more false information on the web than real information. I like to keep a close eye on what is going on and feel that much is happening this year. I am not sure what will be the ultimate game but I want to ramp up our preparedness another notch. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I don ‘t click- but there are so many independent standing articles that include the word shocking- I automatically dump those.

  7. I got an email from some “survival” outfit, giving away “free” carabiner knives…yeh right, all you have to do is pay 4.95 for shipping to get your “free” knife…well, turns out the shipping was stamped 1.42….so much for free, and the card the knife came on said, thumb stud for one hand opening and closing, there was NO thumb stud, but there was a lock, and no way you could operate closing the blade with one hand…I am sick of these thieving lying con artists! ANYONE ELSE?

    • Dear Dave:
      Good warning. I did enjoy my “Free” credit card size 10 tools in one. Then I was paying my Visa card. I noticed my 4.95 but dated 2 weeks later over $25.00 for the magazines I ordered! Once they have your card be on alert. I called politely and just as politely they removed it. Maybe I didn’t read the fine print or there wasn’t any. Review your bills.

  8. Totally agree, almost every site out there now has a grip of ‘clickbait’ ads and makes the site really ugly. At this point the only site I know of that is clean, with useful content is http://www.usCrow.org if you haven’t checked it out yet, you should.

  9. I’m having a wonderful time, learning from ordinary folk, who generously share their opinions. There’s no problem when some self appointed authority tells how to do this or that because if I don’t see the logic in it, I’m not about to do it. That goes for actual authorities as well as those who are just fakes or just mildly delusional. Buyer be ware. Trust but verify.

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