Vox's Business Model: Stupidity Clicks

September 29, 2014

I've often wondered aloud just how much traffic VOX DOT COM gets from generating outrage on Twitter by publishing something so remarkably aggravating that people feel compelled to pass it around. Ten percent of their traffic? Twenty percent?

I ask because last night it became blindingly obvious that Vox's tagline, "The smartest thinkers, the toughest questions" is code for "completely made up stuff, targeted at stupid people." Which is to say, it's clear that VOX DOT COM isn't going for outrage clicks. They're going for stupidity clicks.

Consider that, as I write this, this has been retweeted more than 1,500 times:

Think about that for a moment. Here's a tweet with a photo that is targeted to really, really dumb and gullible people who are so horribly ignorant they don't know that "hands up" is a universal gesture that signifies "I am not a threat." The post itself contains absolutely no proof for the contention made in that tweet. And yet, clickety click click click. I find it hard to believe that Max Fisher himself is so stupid as to realize that "hands up" must obviously signify a reference to Ferguson, Mo. So why, then, does he write a post with the following sentence:

It's impossible to say the degree to which protesters are using the gesture as a deliberate nod to Ferguson, or borrowing something they'd seen on the news for their own purposes, or using it coincidentally. (Emphasis mine)

And headline it thusly: Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 9.08.02 AM We've gone from "it's impossible to say" whether this thing is related to that other thing to "protesters are using." It's a remarkable sleight of hand and certain to drive clicks from idiots on Twitter and on Facebook. Look at all those shares! Let's not let little things like facts get in the way of this awesome bit of stupid-bait:

As Fisher said, it's impossible to say if the Ferguson protesters are in anyway the inspiration for the Hong Kong protesters raising their hands in the universal symbol that signifies "I am not a threat." Just as it's impossible to prove any negative.

But I'm glad VOX DOT COM isn't letting that impossibility dampen its efforts to generate stupidity clicks.