Usually, when a tweet starts with “watch a” or “watch this”, it’s something innocent. Not so when TIME tweeted one of the tragic moments of a young boy’s life with a headline many are describing as “clickbait.” (We won’t link to or embed the video ourselves; if you feel you need to see it to judge whether TIME’s tweet was appropriate, it’s linked in their tweet above.)
Above, we’ve embedded a screenshot of the tweet in case it gets deleted, but here’s the original tweet:
Clickbait is a term describing sensationalistic headlines or content that incite the reader into clicking on an article out of curiosity, rather than a need to be informed. That’s what sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy thrive off of. It’s what ClickHole parodies. It’s not something an established company like TIME should sink to. Not when it needs to be held to journalistic standards, standards which curtail things like this.
Creating clickbait out of a moment this saddening was not a wise idea. I don’t know what TIME was thinking of when posting it. The untimely death of a parent is not something which requires a “watch this” or “watch a”. The social media handling of this moment cannot happen. It should not be happening, and yet it has happened.
Naturally, many on the internet took the same position:
This is not to critique the father for recording this moment. Brenden Bickerstaff-Clark, from Ohio, seems to have positive interests in mind. Bickerstaff-Clark is a recovering addict, and shared the video for other addicts. Says Bickerstaff-Clark:
”This is the realization and reality of our disease. I had someone record this so addicts with children can see the seriousness of our epidemic. Don’t let this disease have to make someone tell your child that your [sic] dead because of drugs. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Please get help so our children don’t have to suffer.”
This is according to the TIME article linked in the tweet. The original piece seems to have pure motivations behind it. But the headline and accompanying tweet probably should not have gotten through TIME’s editorial team the way they did.
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