Warford 2020

Don’t you just love those “clickbait” story teasers that run down the sides, at the bottom or even in the middle of legitimate online news stories?

Do people really read them?

At least some people must read them otherwise, the marketers wouldn’t keep placing them. It must be like the Nigerian email scammers, just hoping for a few suckers to take the bait.

These clickbait stories are paid ads, and when you open them, you see more ads. The stories are broken up by ads, so you must keep clicking all the way through, past ad after ad, to find out how the story ends.

I think some are legitimate stories, picked up from news organizations on the Internet and repackaged to get the reader to click all the way to the end.

Of course, in normal news stories reporters employ the “inverted pyramid” formulation — putting the most import details at the top and least important at the bottom.

Other stories are just plain hokum.

I keep seeing one that shows a picture of Tom Selleck and another fellow with a caption reading: “Tom Selleck and his partner are still together.”

Well, yes, they are. Selleck and wife Jillie have been married 33 years.

Other teasers read: “(Fox News talk show host) Laura Ingraham has never been married — now we know why.”

I have seen the same teaser using other celebrities’ names.

Others declare: “(Name of celebrity) finally admits the truth.”

Or, “The truth is finally out about (name of celebrity).”

Then there will be a picture of people I do not recognize but whom I gather are reality TV show stars: “The cast finally admits the show is fake.”

Um, aren’t all reality shows fake?

Another teaser story promised to give me “The list of reality shows that are fake.” A long list that one.

Lists are popular, because you must keep clicking to see the next item on the list and thus the next ad.

“The 13 most beautiful Fox News anchors, ranked.” By whom?

“25 little known facts about ‘Shawshank Redemption.’ ”

Another popular strategy designed to get you to click is showing photos of celebrities from 20 or 30 years ago with the teaser: “Try not to gasp when you see what he/she looks like now.”

Similarly, they will show a picture of an actor or actress from an iconic role and offer to update you on their life now: “Elizabeth Hurley from ‘Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery’ is 55. This is where she is now.”

Then there are any number of helpful hints on how to save money, make money fast, or avoid losing your money: “Man who predicted 2020 market crash says now is the time.”

Time for what? You would have to click to see.

There are also household hints: “Place dishwasher tablets in your shower. See why.”

Last but by no means least (or maybe it is the least) is the category of “wedding dress fails.”

I fail to click on those, too.

William P. Warford’s column appears every Friday and Sunday.

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