Clickhole: what is the new viral news site all about?

The Onion's new social news site Clickhole lampoons BuzzFeed and wants your clicks

Buzzfeed homepage
(Image credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Clickhole, a new publication from the team behind satirical news company The Onion, is a spoof website that has BuzzFeed, UpWorthy and The Daily Mail squarely in its sights.

The site parodies social news website that trade in picture galleries, quizzes and "listicles" – articles made up of pictures, factoids and gifs. It also mocks the growing prevalence of "clickbait" headlines – those teasing titles that are written specifically to entice you to click on them.

Clickhole stories offer headlines such as: 7 Photos Of Harrison Ford’s Ankle In Its Prime, Want To Feel Old? The Movie ‘High Fidelity’ Would Be A Sexy 14-Year-Old By Now and 10 Adorable Pictures Of Pugs That Are Exclusively For Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki Because He’s Probably Super Stressed Out Right Now And He Needs Them.

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The New York Times suggests that the site's "animating spirit" may be Jessica, an eight-year-old girl who, in a video on the site, explains why someone might end up on Clickhole. She explains: “You want me to say something adorable because, well, you're lonely. And you really just need something to fill the emptiness you're feeling deep down inside. Just remember, no matter how many videos you watch, or how many lists you read, you’re still going to feel all alone".

Even the site's advertising is tongue-in-cheek. On the right-hand side of the homepage sit ads in a box marked "CashHole", and at the bottom of each story, readers will encounter sponsored articles from other sites titled: "Poor Websites In Need Of Clicks".

The site is a direct response to the current direction of online news, says "Clickhole highlights not only the vacuousness of much of what people share on social media, but the media’s cynical (if understandable) response to an advertiser-driven incentive structure that rewards page views over substance".

In an email interview with the New York Times, Clickhole's editor, Jermaine Affonso, said: "we see the ideal ClickHole reader as a hollow shell who exists purely to click on our content and then share that content with other hollow shells … We want the future to completely lack believability. That’s what ClickHole is all about".

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