All self-respecting people hate clickbait, the lowest form of content on the Internet (aside perhaps from “reporting” on Justice Kavanaugh’s college years) — but if we’re going to be honest, most of us have fallen for it at some point. And that is part of what makes it actually dangerous rather than merely supremely annoying, warns Wayne Lonstein in Forbes, arguing that video clickbait in social media serves as a “gateway drug” to real video piracy.
- Lonstein notes the massive proliferation of video clickbait on social media claiming to give users access to desirable content, like streaming video of pro sports, movies, or other kinds of entertainment. The vast majority of these are bogus, of course, but Lonstein aruges that it creates an environment and mindset with an expectation of free content, normalizing piracy.
- In a nutshell: “Instead of deciding that one mistake is enough, many choose to sample dozens of streams claiming to have the desired content. Because of the prevalence of what I have called ‘nano-piracy,’ or, as I described in another article, ‘using or taking either live or recorded proprietary content, capturing it on a device, like a smartphone and then using a live-streaming app to stream it on social media,’ sooner than later, the streaming novice will click on a link that does have the sought-after content. It is at that point the transition into the world of piracy begins.”
- Content owners are far from vigilant here, Lonstein goes on, as “most broadcasters and content protection companies choose to not invest time preventing these seemingly harmless clickbait streams. Quite often they are disregarded as harmless and even a nuisance for those seeking to find an illegal stream.”
- His advice for content owners and broadcasters: “It would be wise not to ignore clickbait. It drives piracy and acclimates potential pirates to the major platforms which are rife with actual illegal streams. Unbeknownst to many in the content protection industry, clickbait streams can be dynamic and alternate between actual illegal content and text in the hope the takedown police will miss them.”
- Additional to TES, Lonstein warns that the same tactics can enable political deep fakes and other types of disinformation: “Clickbait video is far from a threat isolated to sports, movies, and other entertainment content. As we approach the 2020 election those nations, non-state actors and individuals seeking to destabilize the United States will be watching these events carefully — and in return we should certainly be keeping an eye on them.”