n. A web page link with text designed to entice the reader to click the link.
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In last year’s feature on the Puppy Bowl, we wrote that cute — from Buzzfeed’s animal-GIF clickbait to Internet-celebrity cats and dogs — had become big business, due in part to Animal Planet taking a chance on adorable counter-programming to the Super Bowl.
—Maura Judkis, “Ten things to look forward to in the 10th Puppy Bowl,” The Washington Post, January 29, 2014
Had you scrolled down, however, you might have thought you had been redirected to Upworthy: Weather Edition. There was picture of a woman crying accompanied by the headline, "I Told Them Daddy Had an Accident At Work," linking to a Snowfall-esque article about this summer’s Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona. There were clickbait headlines such as "One TERRIFYING Photobomb" and "Will THIS Explore Distant Worlds?"
1999 (earliest)
In January 1997, under the hot glare of lights from the TV station Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, three German hackers gave a dramatic demonstration of mobile code and the havoc it can wreak. First, a "clickbait" Web page with the message "Click here to become a millionaire in five minutes" was shown.
—Jonathan Angel, “Special Report: Mobile Code Security; Internet/Web/Online Service Information,” Network Magazine, December 01, 1999
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