Keep Clickbait Out of Your Timeline with BaitBlock {#Chrome}

The web consists of a huge number of people and sites clamoring for your attention, since your attention translates to pageviews, which, in turn, translate to money.

There are so many vying for your attention, in fact, that it's difficult for news organizations (which I hesitate to call some of them) to stand out. The first—and, hopefully, far from the last—solution is clickbait. The concept is simple: make a headline so compelling that it takes effort not to click on the link. Sounds harmless enough, except for the fact that all journalistic integrity is thrown out of the window in so many cases.

Clickbait headlines often have nothing to do with the content of the story, are deliberately engineered to play to the basest of human impulses, and, often, are flat-out lies. Most of you get it: you've seen plenty of this in your Twitter timeline.

The good news is that there is a solution, and it's a rather playful one.

"...after the first CHD I realized how few sites there were that encouraged playfulness. I mean this in two ways: playfulness in how a user interacts with a tool and playfulness in why a user interacts with a tool. Either quality could exist on its own within an app but I’m suggesting that both benefit from the other’s presence such that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

That's Craig Cannon, explaining in a post the thinking behind BaitBlock, a Chrome extension that, once installed, puts a button next to each tweet when you're on twitter.com. Clicking the button sends the tweet to a database, flagging it as potential clickbait. When enough users have reported it, the tweet disappears from the timeline of every user who has BaitBlock installed. Just below the button is a counter showing how many users have reported the tweet.

Cannon developed BaitBlock in collaboration with Matt Klinman, who's responsible for the Clickstrbait, which highlights the absurdity of clickbait. Clicking on a link on Clickstrbait, for example, produces a popup that asks whether you agree that humans should never be murdered. If you click "I agree," you're presented with this reply:

We think so too. We are changing the world by letting you click on our content. We are good people and we wish more people clicked on the things we make. If you agree, share this site with friends and encourage them to click on as many things as many times as they can. The more you click the better the world gets.

Obviously, these guys feel strongly about clickbait. Fun and jokes aside, the extension is a valuable one, and, as Cannon points out in his post, taking part in the community that surrounds BaitBlock can actually be quite fun.

Bottom Line

If you hate clickbait, you'll love BaitBlock.

BaitBlock

Bonus: if you want to use BaitBlock, but don't want to see the buttons until you need them, insert this code in your favorite CSS editor (like Stylish or Stylebot). Once installed, the buttons won't appear until you hover over them.

 
small.time button:hover {
opacity: 1;
}

small.time p {
-webkit-transition: opacity 0.2s ease-in-out;
opacity: 0;
}

small.time p:hover {
opacity: 1;
}

Article thumbnail is from the inimitable XKCD.