Enough With the Clickbait Thumbnails!

I’m over it already. Aren’t you?

Image created by Jonathan Wylie

I’m sick and tired of seeing annoying clickbait thumbnails on YouTube and Medium. You know what I’m talking about: those images that are designed to grab your attention and make you click on a video or an article that is probably not worth your time.

I’ve seen them all: the exaggerated facial expressions, the shocking headlines, the misleading claims, the irrelevant celebrities, the photoshopped images, and so on.

Enough is enough.

Why Do People Use Clickbait Thumbnails?

Clickbait thumbnails are based on a simple principle: curiosity.

Humans are naturally curious creatures who want to know more about things that interest them. Clickbait thumbnails exploit this by creating a gap between what we know and what we would like to know.

They are designed to make us feel excited, scared, angry, or intrigued by using exaggerated expressions, colors, and fonts. They tease us with a question, a promise, or a mystery that we can only solve by clicking on the video. Or so it would seem.

Have you ever seen a thumbnail that shows a person crying with the text “I’m quitting YouTube”? You might feel: What happened? Why are they quitting? Do I care? Should I care?

Spoiler alert, I don’t. These thumbnails are all about the clicks. More clicks, more followers, and more money.

I have no problem with creators making money online. After all, I’m one of them. I absolutely think that thumbnails should be eye-catching and visually interesting, but things are getting out of hand.

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

The Drawbacks of Clickbait Thumbnails

I roll my eyes every time I see a clickbait thumbnail. They are everywhere. In fact, they are so prevalent that they have lost all of their impact, at least for me. I’m guessing they have for you too.

So, aside from boring your audience, why else are clickbaits a bad idea?

I think there is little doubt that they can damage the reputation and credibility of the creator.

If viewers feel deceived or disappointed by what they see in the video compared to what they expected from the thumbnail, they will lose trust in the creator and stop following them.

I have done this countless times. I won’t name names, but I have done it before, and I will continue to do it. Not only that, but I encourage you to do the same. We have to take a stand.

Clickbait thumbnails can also violate YouTube’s Community Guidelines and Terms of Service. YouTube has policies against spam, deceptive practices, and scams. If your thumbnail does not accurately represent the content of your video, you might be violating these policies.

YouTube doesn’t allow spam, scams, or other deceptive practices that take advantage of the YouTube community. E.g. Misleading Metadata or Thumbnails: Using the title, thumbnails, description to trick users into believing the content is something it is not. (Source)

YouTube can remove your video, issue a strike on your channel, or even terminate your account if you repeatedly use clickbait thumbnails.

According to Medium, “clickbait, including visual clickbait”, is ineligible for distribution. It will be restricted to a writer’s or publication’s followers.

How to Fight Back Against a Clickbait Culture

The answer is simple. Don’t click. Unsubscribe, stop following, and don’t engage with this content. If the video or article is guilty of misleading the audience, report it to the platform where it was published.

This kind of behavior is an insult to our intelligence. Don’t reward or encourage these people by giving in to what they want.

Still here? Great! I’m glad you made it to the end. I know this was not a happy, uplifting post, but if you agree with me, here are some ways to show your appreciation:

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