The War Against Clickbait Vultures: Fighting For Truth & Authenticity

There is a toxic culture in areas of the media and on various platforms online where they have essentially become ‘clickbait vultures’, essentially preying on people’s vulnerabilities, mistakes, misdemeanours and misfortunes without compassion, objective balance or responsibility to the truth. Through the propagation of crude sensationalism they are callously exploiting and destroying people’s lives and businesses for profit and the impact of this on our society runs far wider and deeper than it might appear. It’s time for people who stand for truth and fairness, compassion and repentance to come together and bring an end to this.

Photo by Nick Kwan on Unsplash

This Article In A Nutshell

  • We are allowing ourselves as individuals and society to drift away from the truth and distorting our sense of reality with disastrous consequences

  • Aspects of the Media are sensationalising stories and behaving like vultures by preying on people's vulnerabilities, misdemeanours and failings for clickbait

  • We are living in an increasingly fake, superficial and meaningless world as people become more and more fearful of speaking and standing for truth

  • The effects of this culture is destroying people's lives, families and businesses and it needs to change

  • There needs to be a forgiving culture of repentance and empowering people from their mistakes and failures, not punishing and destroying them

  • We are calling for a 'Groundswell' of people who will stand for truth, understanding and repentance against tyranny, bullying and exploitation


The Inconvenience of Truth Today

Truth. How genuinely important is that to people today and how much are we willing to stand up to protect it and uphold it? We live in a world where people are increasingly judged, mocked, derided, trashed and even vilified for telling or standing for the truth because it goes against what someone else or a group of people want to believe.


One can argue that the truth has become so inconvenient and at variance to the preferred or desired narrative / agenda for so many people today that we have allowed an age of fake news, deep fakes and social media that puts immense pressure on people, especially young people and children, to make their lives disingenuously APPEAR as flawless and impressive as possible to everyone watching.

“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” – George Orwell

We are literally running away and hiding from our imperfections, faults and flaws as human beings and expecting standards that are unattainable and unreal. Take social media as an example; the increasing use of beauty filters on photo and video apps today are so popular that there are claims some popular apps are adding unchangeable beauty filters as a standard, without notifying their customers, in order to make their experience of them more desirable. But there is always going to be a painful cost for distorting reality like this as this very example is showing, where these filters are being increasingly blamed for warping people’s perception of beauty as well as destroying many people’s self esteem as a result.


The Rise & Scourge Of The Clickbait Vulture

Driving this judgemental perfectionism and making matters worse through the distortion of accurate perceptions are certain aspects of the media fuelling this cultural and societal deviation from truth and reality. And they are doing this while cashing in as much as possible on people’s increasing appetite for drama, gossip and sensationalism using ‘clickbait’ headlines and fabricated, biassed, purely subjective or misleading and untrustworthy information.


In 2015, Ben Frampton at the BBC defined ‘click bait’ this way…

“Put simply, it is a headline which tempts the reader to click on the link to the story. But the name is used pejoratively to describe headlines which are sensationalised, turn out to be adverts or are simply misleading. Publishers increasingly use it for simple economics; the more clicks you get, the more people on your site, the more you can charge for advertising. A report by the Columbia Journalism Review highlighted the case of online magazine Slant, which pays writers $100 per month, plus $5 for every 500 clicks on their stories. Slant is far from unique in this respect and this business model is becoming increasingly common, but opponents argue it means journalists will dumb down stories in order to get more clicks in order to earn a living.”

To put this in the context of the bigger picture and why aspects of the media and certain newspaper companies are going this way, the global advertising industry, whilst taking a 3.5% hit in 2020 due to Covid19 still had an estimated total global value of $622 Billion. However it has since seen a huge resurgence and is now estimated to soon reach a global value exceeding $1 Trillion by 2026, according to Statista. That is a VERY big and enticing pie for those in the ad space business who rely on such revenue to exist to want to compete for as big a slice of it as they can get. So in a bid to grab what attention they can, many are resorting more and more to ‘click baiting’ tactics in order to maintain and maximise their advertising revenues.


One of the worst offenders in the traditional press in the UK is the Daily Mail. Just click on their Daily Mail Online pages and you will notice your laptop or computer immediately slowing down and even struggling under the weight of the added drain on it's RAM resources by all the images and advertisements on every page. So much so it has been described by Wikipedia Co-Founder, Jimmy Wales, who has decided not to accept the Daily Mail on his platform (that relies on truth, facts and reality as its principle foundation) as a source anymore, this way…

"I think what [the Daily Mail has] done brilliantly in this ad funded world (is) they've mastered the art of click bait, they've mastered the art of hyped up headlines, they've also mastered the art of, I'm sad to say, of running stories that simply aren't true. And that's why Wikipedia decided not to accept them as a source anymore. It's very problematic, they get very upset when we say this, but it's just fact."

It's the financially motivated desire to drive up advertising revenues through clickbait, given the financial rewards means truth is becoming less important or, one might say, not even necessary where the main aim is simply to get people to click through, regardless of authenticity. “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” as the old saying goes and that certainly applies when attention grabbing headlines and catchphrases are essential to win the fight for attention and clicks, even if that is to the detriment of those being written about.


The Impact Of Sensationalism & Fear Of Truth

Most recently Lighthouse International itself has fallen prey to this kind of journalism via the Daily Mail, where articles have been written about our Chairman Paul Waugh and the company as a whole that have sensationalised false and malicious accusations made against us, regardless of proof and contrary to clear evidence and well reasoned explanation we handed over to them. It was this situation that highlighted and proved to us that certain journalists simply aren’t interested in truth and facts when it conflicts with the story they have already decided they want to write and they are prepared to ruin lives and businesses through propagating misinformation and falsehoods to do it.


Where else and who else have the press done this same thing and likely in many cases to those lacking the resources and influence to fight back against libel and false accusations from papers with deep pockets filled by ad revenue? Where else have articles twisted and sensationalised the truth or even lied completely in order to sell papers and advertising space? People’s lives, their livelihoods, reputations, families and businesses ought not to be diminished to clickbait and exploited for financial gain by companies that prey on the lack of power many have to hold such things accountable.


It’s no wonder that our very lives and the institutions we could once rely on and trust are becoming more and more disingenuous, untrustworthy and fake, along with the news, which leads to a bigger issue and problem at hand here that’s underlying this syndrome we see in the press. More and more people in general, influenced by this culture they see online, in print and on the television, prey on each other’s weaknesses and delight in seeing and attacking other people’s misfortunes, misdemeanours, errors and bad deeds. As a result, people today are increasingly terrified of speaking the truth and being who they really are and standing up for what is right as well as holding their hands up and making things right where and when they have got things wrong.


People are terrified that others will see their faults, flaws and vulnerabilities because they know how harshly they can be judged, mocked, even vilified, hated and scorned. So they hide behind beauty filters, their overly idealised social image and media accounts, behind brand name clothes and lifestyles they often can’t really afford but think will make them more valuable and attractive, flashing fake smiles that hide their true troubled or negative and even nasty thoughts in a bid to be the most accepted, popular, sought after and inoffensive person in the room.


The following is a recording of Lighthouse Chairman, Paul Waugh, speaking about the need to help people reform and regenerate rather than preying on them, breaking them down and destroying lives because of their mistakes and bad deeds..


How Did We Get Like This & How Is It Affecting us?

How did we get like this? Why do we buy the papers and click on the links that fuel this vulture-like culture in the press, in media and that is spreading into society as a whole? A culture of breaking people down and capitalising on the downfall or mockery and shaming of others? Where is the compassion and the forgiveness to help those who have got things wrong and to educate and empower people when they make mistakes or act foolishly and do bad things; to help them learn, reform and regenerate themselves into someone better and wiser and more mature as a result? Is punishing people for every misdemeanour and flaw making our society better or worse and what are we teaching our children through this? Perhaps our crime levels and prison populations would be a lot lower if we did things differently. Perhaps many people wouldn't end up in prison at young ages where they learn to be more effective and more dangerous criminals through the company they begin to keep and environment they are put into.


We have created and are fuelling a culture of lying, fakery, superficiality and pretence where human relationships are becoming more and more superficial, distant, digitalised, shallow and unfulfilling because we can’t tell one another honestly about our challenges, our weaknesses and our fears anymore, for fear of being judged, exploited and mocked or rejected. How many more lives are going to be lost to suicide at the hands of merciless social pressures and judgements, like the Caroline Flack’s of this world? As this Guardian article says:

"However, the press that had happily built her up as a star also delighted in taking her down, cackling about Caroline “Whack”. On the back of these headlines, armies of online vigilantes were equally happy to harass someone about whom they knew little, often acting as judge, jury and executioner while dispensing with the presumption of innocence." ~ Richard Seymour, The Guardian

How many more businesses are going to be vilified into non-existence for their misdemeanours and errors, like this example of Sara Christensen who owned a successful company that brought business leaders together into mastermind groups? Here's a glimpse into what happened to her after just one instance of poor judgement...

"Every asset I had for my business was destroyed," she [Christensen] says. . "My podcast had thousands of bad reviews. Anything I had online was just inundated. My clients were also attacked and told in no uncertain terms that they needed to not do business with me anymore."...
...Then she was "doxed"--her home address and other personal information was published online. She began receiving death threats at home. "I had an eight-page, handwritten letter sent to my house telling in great detail how they're going to kill me and my family and cut my dogs' heads off," she recalls.

Small businesses, shops, cafe’s and restaurants today are often held hostage to and fearful of trolls who will take to the internet at the first opportunity to be a ‘keyboard warrior’ because of the slightest wrongs or errors, or simply in order to try and force a refund?


No wonder there is less and less feeling of genuine community spirit as people retreat from one another behind their screens where every word they say can be more considered and carefully thought out before they text it, rather than speaking in person and having real conversations about real issues and experiences, as well as the hard chats that lead to better understanding and greater levels of trust, connection and fulfilment. This isn’t just in the press, it’s in our social media and it’s in our social circles and something needs to change.


In a 2020 Forbes article on trolling, Jevin West, an associate professor within the Information School at the University of Washington was quoted as saying,

"We are swimming in a cesspool of misinformation”.

And Dr. Kent Bausman, a professor in the Online Sociology program at Maryville University as saying:

"Considerable research shows how the online environment leads to a lack of inhibitions in posting behaviour and adds to a sense of empowerment through the cloak of semi anonymity that comes with online posting,""When you combine these with the lack of accountability that often comes with one's online behaviour, we have emboldened people to speak in a virtual public sphere in a manner they would not otherwise do in a physical public space."

We need a Groundswell of People Who Stand For Truth, Authenticity, Fairness & Repentance

So there needs to be a collective voice in our world that stands for truth, fairness, justice, compassion and most of all, repentance - where the wrongdoings and mistakes that people have made are seen in a new light and people are given the encouragement and space to be contrite; to take responsibility and to make things right without feeling they will be mauled, destroyed and rejected for being an imperfect and fallible human being. We are all imperfect!


Of course this does not mean a lack of accountability and where there is a lack of repentance and remorse then individuals, groups and even companies need to be held accountable to the highest necessary and possible level, but that doesn’t mean their opportunity to turn things around, to repent and pay penance is ever taken away from them. That must always be there, genuinely there too.


Where we have made mistakes and got things wrong we will always take responsibility and make things right. The standard we have demanded from our trolls and critics alike in this is that, where someone believes we are at fault, we have a fair and open discussion, privately in person around the table or in court if that's not possible, so that both sides can be equally and fairly represented and heard and all necessary information disclosed. None of this cowardly sniping from pseudonyms online and dogpiling in anonymous packs of hateful scorn. That is not just and nor is it honourable, let alone adult.


To give you an idea of what we ourselves have been facing, here is one of our trolls stating their intentions... At least there is promise of legal proceedings from them we can look forward to, and we do look forward to that, greatly!


At Lighthouse International we are calling out to those who want to be part of a global community that stands for certain values; for truth, reality, fairness, justice, repentance, penance, recompense and regeneration. Where people, groups and organisations can be encouraged to transition and transform themselves through their mistakes and faults to become better, healthier, wiser and more productive to society as a whole. Not hated, vilified and dogpiled into oblivion and destruction like Sara Christensen experienced.


As part of this campaign we are calling for those who have themselves been trolled or vilified and punished publicly in the press and online, unfairly and without compassion. Whether true, partly true or untrue, for those who want to fight this kind of journalistic witch hunting, vilification and sensationalism as well as lying and fabrication in order to sell papers and sell advertising.


It’s this influence which is fuelling the worst in people and in our society and it needs to be campaigned against and stopped. We are calling for a GROUNDSWELL of support and people who want to be involved in contributing and spreading the word about this and helping to galvanise opinions based on authentic discussions and to bring resources together for this end. One or a few individuals, a small - medium sized business or organisation might feel outgunned and outnumbered against large national and multinational media companies, however combined with thousands, perhaps millions around the world, we can be a force to be reckoned with.


Join Us & Find Out More

If you’d like to know more, you can get in touch via our contact page, here. There will be more on this from Lighthouse and from our Chairman Paul Waugh who is leading this campaign.


You can read here about his response to the Daily Mail articles about us here and follow our YouTube channel and his video/podcast series, The Waugh Rooms, here.


Here is Paul Waugh in response to the press and the need for ordinary people and businesses to hold those journalists and media organisations who abuse their 'power' accountable...






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