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Don’t Fall for These Tactics

& Terms You Should Know


Clickbait is a linked, sensationalized title and photo used to redirect visitors from one website to another for the purpose of generating ad revenue, often by pay per click (PPC). The photo usually has little or nothing to do with what the title implies, and the article and accompanying photo or gallery usually fail to deliver what it suggests. Clickbait is a means of manipulation. (5, 7)


Clickbait must be profitable, though, because it is found almost everywhere, even on news sites. Remember, every time you fall for clickbait content, you are rewarding false information and potentially putting money in a liar’s pocket.


FOMO means ‘fear of missing out’, which is a tactic social media marketers use to make viewers feel like they had better take advantage of some exclusive or limited time offers so they won’t miss out. Lately, I’ve been seeing multiple companies on FaceBook advertise that they are going out of business, so they're imploring customers to take advantage of their limited time sales. The names of the stores change, but the wording is the same. (2)


The Emperor’s New Clothes is a good example of a hoax form of this. If you aren’t familiar with it, the story is about an emperor who loved fine clothing, and some swindlers showed up claiming to make the finest clothing in the world. They told the Emperor that the clothing would be invisible to stupid or incompetent people. The Emperor ends up paying them a fortune to make his clothes, and the weavers pretend to be weaving invisible thread. No one, including the Emperor actually sees the clothes, but nobody wants to admit it to keep from appearing stupid or incompetent. When the Emperor wears nothing in a great procession in front of his entire kingdom, it takes a child to speak the truth, “But he has nothing on!” The moral of this story is that an entire kingdom ignores the obvious for fear of judgment by others. (3)

That can be applied to so many other aspects in our lives, including politics.


Gaslighting is a means of manipulating a person or group of people by making them doubt their own memory, perception, and reality by using persistent lying, misdirection, and contradiction. My son-in-law recently mentioned the word gaslighting and defined it for me. I didn’t realize there was a term for this, but I recognized the behavior immediately. It’s sad when one individual uses it to manipulate another, but it is unconscionable when a person in power does it to confuse and manipulate the general public, or tries to. 


Some common practices of gaslighters include attacking the messenger to deflect from the facts, declaring victory in every situation, demeaning opponents by calling them names and attacking their character, and calling reputable sources of information “fake” or “lies” to discredit anything that tarnishes the gaslighter’s persona. 


Gaslighting is a common technique used by abusers in domestic situations, too, and 75% of gaslighters are men. The abuser makes the victim question their reality, question the truth about anything so they can gain more power and control over them. Gaslighting is also a common technique of narcissists, dictators, and cult leaders. (1, 6)

Native Advertising

On social media, some paid advertising is made to look like a regular post because consumers tend to look at these types of ads 53% more often than regular ads. (2)


Political Bullying

Political bullying is when social media users post obnoxious, offensive, inflammatory, and often untrue or biased statements, memes, links to articles, etc. with the thought that their posts will change people’s minds. Hiding behind a screen gives virtual bullies the courage to say things they would never say to someone’s face.  (4)


Social Listening & Social Media Monitoring

Social listening is how social media managers track conversations around key topics, terms, brands, and more. It gathers millions of comments, hashtags, and relevant posts to glean insight on what users are talking about and how. Social media monitoring is a more passive means of keeping up with your mentions and following your audience’s comments. (2)


Something disconcerting that recently happened to my daughter occurred after she told her son to go get another puzzle, and within minutes, she received an ad on her laptop about puzzles. The only explanation was that “Hey Google” was listening. Remembering that your ‘smart’ devices are always listening for commands and possibly using your information for marketing purposes is definitely something to think about. Someone will figure out how to hack smart devices and use the information for ill-gotten gains, if they haven't already.


Did a Clickbait Ad Get You Here?

If the provocative title and photo on Second Wind’s home page caused you to click on it, you’ve noticed by now that they had little to do with this article. That’s what a clickbait ad does, although this site is selling nothing and has no ads. 

Donna Van Cleve

September 2020

Keep Learning


  1. 11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting

  2. The 65 Social Media Terms & Definitions to Know in 2020 

  3. The Emperor’s New Clothes 

  4. How to Handle Political Bullying on Facebook 

  5. The More Outrageous, the Better: How Clickbait Ads Make Money for Fake News Sites

  6. Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting 

  7. What Is Clickbait? 

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The photo I used for clickbait is of my ornery grand-dog, Trixie under my bed pillows. She likes to snap at me when I try to move her from places she shouldn't be. Below, my grand-daughter Audrie captured her personality perfectly. 

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