Are clickbaits ethical?


author small image Siva Kishore G
Posted : 04 June 2022
Modified : 17 Sep 2022
Intermediate Developers
Which of these titles is more interesting

What is a clickbait?

Clickbait, as the name suggests, is a technique by which the user is persuaded (tricked! more likely) to click on the link. In otherwords, it's a process of luring the user. Interesting titles, intriguing subjects and unnatural images are predominantly used for clickbaits.

Most often we see this in video thumbnails. People earn money through ads on their videos and hence require more viewers. Ad banners are another example.

Are clickbait's ethical? OR legal?

Anything that has an advantage is always misused. Only the user can decide whether it's ethical or not, nevertheless it's a brilliant way of converting to clicks.

It is definitely not an illegal practice. My guess is, it's just a matter of time and it's already happening with google adsense. Similarly, YouTube doesn't disallow clickbaiting even though users find it annoying.

How it's done?

As mentioned before, it's done using intriguing headlines and images. It taps into how human psychology works. Let's discuss different ways of user persuasion

  • Intriguing / Suspense

    We, the humans, are dopamine mongering. Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that induces happy feelings. One can release this by eating favorite foods, having sex and consuming alcohol etc.

    Revealing secrets or going over suspense also do release dopamine. Bingo!


    • If you want to become rich, then don't miss this!
    • What she did after that will shock you!
    • 10 ways you can improve your finances
    • Find out if someone is secretly admiring you
    • 99% of people don't know the
    • Are you staying up late? Do you know why?
    • What the internet companies are not telling you
    • 10 foods to stay ever youthful
    • This technique will help you perform better in bed
  • Feeling Left out

    Nobody wants to be left out. it's an immediate reaction to participate in whatever we feel left out. And also herd mentality, you would want to join if a bunch of people are just going somewhere.


    • Don't see this if you want to stay poor
    • Only the successful will read these books
    • Don't try this at home!
    • Are you buying a home in xyz? Then you must know this!
    • You are missing out if you dont book for this vacation
    • This offer is not for everyone
    • Click to see if you qualify
    • Tips for those who make over $40K a year
  • Sense of urgency

    We see this everywhere. Commonly in hotel bookings, we see something like "Only 1 room left at this price".


    • Get this offer before someone else does
    • You need to see this now!
    • Purchase this product before the news leaks to the public
    • You qualify for this if you are born in 1998
    • Limited availability!
  • Intriguing images

    Images are more effective since the message is very quickly perceived than actual text. When combined, it's even more effective. See some of the examples below.

    Man shocked - clickbait
    Save money - clickbait
  • Click nudges

    We all check our messages in our email, phone, chats etc. it's a culture we accepted and continue to do so. So, extending this idea, some sites I've seen this, webmasters, very cleverly place a "1" next to the bell icon or a chat icon. So immediately, we click on it and it's like almost an impulse.

    Bell icon Bell icon


Use this knowledge for gaining more traction for the website or even use them as email subject line. Email providers are much more agressive in filtering the spam and the email ends up in blakclists. Take a look at this interative tool; simple survey for title tags.

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