Note: When this article was first written it made reference to Christianity Today. This was an error. In fact the website in question is Christian Today. My apologies for the initial error.
Clickbait. Clickbait is everywhere. What happened next will blow your mind. You won’t believe what this guy said. Personal trainers hate this guy for telling everyone this one weird trick to lose weight. OMG, #5 on this list gave me chills!
Sometimes clickbait is blatant, as in examples like those. Other times it’s in the wording, where you can argue that there’s a sense in which the headline is true, but the writer knows quite well that people will understand it to mean something that is blatantly false yet titillating.
I expect clickbait from some places, as well as headlines and even stories that spin things so extremely that they basically amount to what is being dubbed fake news. Yes, Huffington Post, I mean you.
Now here’s a recent tweet from Christian Today:
That looks pretty clear, right? Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is going to express remorse over The Reformation. I don’t think there’s any honest doubt about what those words will be taken to mean by most readers: The Archbishop of Canterbury, to a considerable extent at least, regrets that the Reformation happened. Typical. What a wishy-washy, Ecumenical liberal who doesn’t think theological distinctives matter. He’s basically a Catholic! Anglicans, huh? What else would you expect?
Bait laid. Next come the clicks for which the bait was laid. And when you click on the link, you’re taken to the story, with this headline:
Oh. So… he doesn’t regret the Reformation. He regrets that it was accompanied by violence. Well. How about that?
Actually, CT used as its source a story from the Daily Mail (yes, really), which is entirely about violence and people being burned to death etc, something Welby regrets.
Decide for yourself whether or not this constitutes clickbait. The answer will shock you!