Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Click Bait

Found this today, poking around the recesses of some news web site, the name of which I forgot as soon as I watched the video linked here. 

Pretty typical, anti-corporate screed here. 

But . . . 

Where is it coming from? 

I don’t know. And Upworthy apparently thinks I either already know or (most likely) don’t really care, because informing me isn’t their goal. Sharing them is.

Obviously, I’m supposed to share this link on Facebook or Twitter. And, apparently, if I’m reading these pseudo-graphs right, more people have shared it on the former than the latter. Nevermind I don’t know who this guy is – Oh, it’s Peter Hart, and he might be from FAIR – I did watch the video, remember – but then again, he might not. Upworthy doesn’t tell me. I have to go find out on my own.

And that’s fine. That’s what I should be doing as a critical consumer. 

FAIR is, of course, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Obviously left-wing, if you go to their website. 

Peter Hart is “activism director” at FAIR – a left-wing title if I’ve ever heard one. but that’s a no-nevermind. FAIR could be right-wing, and Upworthy would just assume you know that, or don’t care. Share. That’s all Upworthy seems to want. Share, share, share. “Things that Matter. Pass ‘em on.” That’s their motto.

They appear young. Rollie Williams, breathless about this FAIR video, tells us that the “biggest priority for corporations is that sweet sweet cash money. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but when massive corporations come together to profit from journalism, it becomes incredibly debilitating to consumers of that journalism. We’re living in a society that values the truth yet has insufficient access to it because it hurts corporate profits.” 

As if that’s a new thing. And as if getting news funded by left-wing or right-wing causes is any better than news funded by advertising. But all that doesn’t matter. Share, share, share. And design it with an obvious click-bait title like “This is Why Journalism has Sucked for the Past 20 Years.” 

Oh Rollie, you’re so young. William Randolph Hearst loves that you think corporate journalism is a new thing. 

But Upworthy’s plan – kickbacks from “non-profits and organizations who are looking to grow their memberships via the sign-up boxes you might have noticed on your way into the site” is more noble, of course. Advertising disguised as social activism, is always – ALWAYS – better than advertising disguised as advertising. 

Conveniently, this is all spelled out in their viral-ready privacy policy infographic. 
“We work with non-profits and other groups to connect them with people interested in their causes. If you sign up to learn more about a particular organization, we receive a small fee for making the match.” 

Doed non-profit automatically mean a group’s goals are pure as the driven snow? Apparently, if they’re left-wing or at least left-of-center causes, yes. 

Nothing right-wing, of course. Not that politics matter.* Making stuff that matters viral, well, that matters. And if we can make money at it, why, that matters as well. Remember, folks, this isn’t corporations making money off the news. It’s high-minded individuals pushing what matters – or, at least what matters to their paying non-profits and “others” – to the masses. 


Aldous Huxley, once again, was right. 

*I’m not a right-winger. I sag in the middle, but truth be told I’m more left of center than right. I voted for Obama. I favor civil unions. I don’t mind if there are homosexuals in the Boy Scouts of America. But I may eventually get a gun. PETA makes me itch. I’m a Mormon, for heaven’s sake.

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