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  • Writer's pictureLive Oak Management

Netflix's "Clickbait" and Dangers of the Circulation of Viral Content Online

By: Lauren Keating, Account Executive

SPOILER ALERT: If you were planning on watching Clickbait on Netflix and haven’t yet– watch first and come back!

For the second week in a row, Clickbait is the most-viewed original streaming television show of the week, per Nielsen’s latest report. It was watched for 1,460 million minutes from August 30 to September 5, and it garnered a lot of buzz among young adults in that time frame.

The plot of Clickbait is one that mirrors our own media trends in current times. We live in an age of media saturation– social media and consumption take over our lives. In the show Clickbait, a video of a man holding up a sign that says, “At five million views I die.” is shown as we watch his family and close friends unravel the mystery of where he is.

Of course, the video spreads rapidly, and people cannot help themselves but watch the video even when they know there could be really dark consequences for it. The Netflix hit Clickbait takes a very dark and twisted approach to address viral content. While this is fortunately not a reality, there still are some drawbacks and dangers to the way content spreads online.

An idea that parallels the fate of the main character in Clickbait can be applied to many celebrities who had compromising or harmful videos of themselves be leaked to the public. Not only is this a crisis of mending the figure’s reputation, but stopping the content from spreading even faster.

Merriam-Webster defines cancel culture as “the mass withdrawal of support from public figures or celebrities who have done things that aren't socially accepted today. This practice of ‘canceling’ or mass shaming often occurs on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.” Today’s emphasis on cancel culture brings about many challenges for reputation management. There seems to be a new viral video each week of a prominent individual saying something problematic, and efforts to manage a canceled client’s reputation may seem futile.

This makes for a very interesting time to be working in public relations and communications. Viral content is exactly what it sounds like– viral. It spreads rapidly and you can rarely pinpoint an initial source.

The effects of viral content in today’s media landscape are not as severe as the video in Clickbait, but it is important to consider some real threats to the PR industry as cancel culture and media circulation continue to strengthen their hold in society.

PR professionals nowadays must deal more with cancel culture and unflattering leaked videos than ever before. In Clickbait, we can see how rapidly shocking or harmful content can be circulated, and we see this frequently in real life as well.

As PR professionals, it is important to note how viral content circulates and what, if anything, can change its course. It is also crucial to monitor these trends as they continue to evolve so we can better serve our clients.

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