Monday, 7 October 2013

Facebook link bait

These are the kind of posts you often see on Facebook. They appear to ask a reasonable questions, which you realise you can easily answer. Then you think of another, and another answer. And you wonder how could someone ask such a stupid question. I usually pass them by or get slightly annoyed but still pulled in and answer the question.

It was only today that it dawned on me - sorry for being so dumb, that these are designed to be so simple/stupid, that many, many people fall into the trap of answering. In this case 926K comments. They are just bait to generate likes, comments and shares. They end with a provocative challenge :

"I bet you can't ;)"

The cheeky emoticon adds to the friendly, bit of fun, nature of the message and helps to egg the user on. And boy do they work. Hundreds of thousands of people take the bait and so the challenge is spread and the original poster gains the credit for the apparent richness of the content.

This one hit my feed at UK primetime, ready to be read at breakfast or on your way into the office. It has been doing the rounds for 17 days. In the 65 minutes since I took the original screengrab from my iPhone the post has appeared again in my feed and this time with an additional 6.5k comments. Not bad.

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