My Anti-Linkbait Pledge: Cynical Overhyping vs. Simply Being Online

When I find something interesting that an online friend has shared via a linkbait site, I hereby pledge that I will link to the origin of the story, rather than a third-party site that republishes it without commentary.

The people who share and like and respond to Upworthy and similar linkbait websites are just responding to content that they like, and they’re sharing it online because, well, that’s what people do online.

But it is interesting, from an ethical perspective, and as a writing teacher maybe a little frightening, to see how the hypesters are profiting from the intellectual efforts of those who create the content being hyped. (Upworthy, for example, generates money that it does not share with the creators of the pictures and stories we learn about through Upworthy.)

If I find a blogger or Facebooker who makes a thoughtful comment about the issue, perhaps drawing on expertise or personal experience, or whose post also includes a link to the origin of the story rather than a hyped re-publication of a juicy nugget from it, well, that’s a different matter,