- What is clickbait?
Clickbait is any link that is vague, misleading, sensationalized and/or emotionally charged so that people will click on the link more than they would otherwise.
- Vague, meaning the link doesn't inform the user what the article or content is actually about in particular.
- For example: "Look at this thing I did."
- Misleading, meaning the link leads the user to think of something most likely isn't true, is over exaggerated, or the link sounds like a rumor without evidence. Sensationalized is similar, meaning the link is designed to provoke interest and excitement, usually at the expense of correctness.
- For example: "Did Amelia Earhart Fly into Space?"
- Emotionally charged, meaning the link uses adjectives or emotionally charged words or phrases in order to make the content sound more interesting than it probably is.
- For example: "10 Skateboard Tricks to Knock Your Socks Off." or "The Amazing Story Behind the Transistor." Examples of emotionally charged words include unbelievable, harassed, assault, and death.
- Why clickbait?
- Clickbait can often make people feel angered, disappointed, betrayed, and other negative emotions. We want to minimize the negative emotional impact that clickbait has on people.
- What does clickbait have to do with your company's mission?
- We think that people will notice the difference between when they regularly browse the internet without clickbait and when they browse with clickbait. Then, when they notice the difference in how they feel throughout the day, we'll have completed our mission of helping people better understand their emotions.
- How does ClickMask work?
- We use a very small neural network to determine whether or not a link is clickbait as soon as the page is loaded. As such, we can make an educated guess on whether or not a link is clickbait, even if the article was just published.
- Not all clickbait is blocked / links that aren't clickbait are blocked, why?
- Neural networks aren't 100% accurate, so there will be a few false positives and a few false negatives. Because of this, we have a few safeguards in place to minimize the amount of false positives. We do this so that a user can have a good user experience regardless of the webpage.
- What safeguards are in place to minimize the amount of normal links marked as clickbait?
- By default, we only accept something as clickbait if we are 80% sure or higher that it is clickbait. We found this number to be the magic number that filters out most of the really offensive clickbait while allowing most innocuous links to slip by. However, you can modify this number if you think we are being too aggressive or if too much clickbait is slipping by. Additionally, we don't process links that have four or less words in them as a safeguard against accidentally blocking key naviagtion links. We chose four words as it should be enough words to create any navigational link but short enough that it is difficult to make clickbait with.
- Some websites look weird or have content missing after installing ClickMask, why?
- When we find something we think is clickbait, we remove the link from the page. By default, we also try to guess what else is related to the link so that you don't have to see big empty spaces or weird formatting after the link is removed. This can mess up however, as it can be hard to figure out what content is related to the link since every page is so different. There are a few ways to fix this. You can enable an option to make ClickMask only delete the link, and not delete related content. You can also submit a bug to give us an example of what problems you are seeing. While submitting a bug is less immediate, it also lets ClickMask grow and become better.
- What problems won't be or can't be fixed moving forward?
Neural networks can't ever be 100% accurate, so no matter what, some clickbait is going to slip by. We are working to become more accurate, but we need better data and time to run experiments to improve the accuracy further.
- Text that isn't a link won't be blocked. Not only does not checking all the text on a page speed up our processing time, but if there's no corresponding link, then it can't be clickbait anyway.
- Videos, pictures, gifs, or other embedded content that have clickbait titles that aren't links. Embedded content that isn't a link usually only happens if one is browsing the offending website in the first place.
- Does ClickMask slow down my internet connection?
No. Since we wait until the page is loaded before processing, your internet load speed should not be affected. However, since we wait until the page is loaded to process the links, you may notice a link and then see it disappear from the page. This is normal. We experimented with processing the links as the page is loaded, but that actually significantly slowed down the internet load time.
We do, however, watch for page changes after the page has been loaded, so there is a slight slow down on pages that load some or all of their main content dynamically after the actual page is loaded. Thankfully, ClickMask works just fine on a 5-year old laptop, so we hope the average user won't even be able to notice it. That being said, if you try to load a page with thousands of links on it, you will probably notice some problems. Luckily, most websites don't try to load that many links at once.
- Why don't you just use website filters like all the companies who do ad blockers?
- Ultimately, it's impossible to keep track of every single piece of clickbait - too much new clickbait is made every day. That being said, we are working towards creating a filtering system for websites that publish mostly clickbait as their content.
- But I like clickbait!
- Cool. Everyone has their own preferences. If you don't want to use our product, then don't. We won't judge. :)
- I don't like clickbait, but you tend to block a site that I do like. What can I do?
- There is an option to turn off the blocker for certain domains if you click on the icon in your browser. There is also an option to disable the extension temporarily if you prefer that.
- How do you make money?
- Currently, we depend on donations as a way of making money. If you would like to donate, you can donate from our main page.
- Why do you need money?
- It costs money to pay for server time, run experiments, host a website and a whole slew of other expenses, including just paying our employees so that they can eat.
- How can I help?
- You can help by contributing data to our experiments, labeling our current data, or just by donating money.
- Do you collect any user data?