ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Are Blogs Evil?

Updated on March 20, 2015

I recently read the book, Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, by Ryan Holiday. This book is about his experiences behind the scenes in the world of blogging and PR, and how those mediums work. It exposes how readers are constantly manipulated by online content in an effort for blogs to drive traffic and page views. Although there are millions of blogs out there, Holiday mainly refers to larger blogs such as Gawker, Business Insider, Politico, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Drudge Report because those are the most widely read by the media elite and have significant influence over what becomes news. Below are a few of my main takeaways from the book.

  • Bloggers trade up the chain - Every blogger is under immense pressure to produce newsworthy content under extremely tight deadlines. They must write several times a day. So bloggers scour the web, social media and other blogs to find topics to write about. Their sources become these non-traditional sources, and ,because bloggers are under such immense pressures to produce content, they rarely take the time to fact check their sources. This process of "trading up the chain" allows something to turn out of nothing. A media manipulator can place a story with a small blog with very low standards, which then becomes the source of a larger blog, and that, subsequently, for a story for larger media outlets
  • Blogging economics - Publishers make money by getting traffic on their site. Each click is money into the publisher's pocket. Therefore, it does not matter if the reader is genuinely interested or just perusing. Every decision a publisher makes is ruled by one rule: traffic by any means. This could mean fake scoops, fake exclusives or any story to garner reader attention, even if the source is questionable
  • Bloggers are poor - Bloggers are overworked, underpaid and under constant pressure to produce a lot of buzzworthy content. Therefore, bloggers are incentivized to write bigger, write simpler, write controversially and with as little work as possible. Their paycheck depends on it
  • Bloggers want news that spreads, not what is good - The more an article spreads, the more money a publisher makes. According to a study done by the Wharton School of Business, the most powerful predictor of what spreads online is anger. Additionally, emotions such as fear, excitement and laughter also drive clicks (sadness does not - nobody wants to share a depressing story). However, not all news evokes these emotions. Therefore, bloggers spin the news and try to find angles to evoke these emotions
  • Bloggers trick their readers - Do I think bloggers are really evil? No. However, I entitled my article with a loaded question to elicit more page views. Bloggers are competing with the rest of the internet to get page views. Therefore, they spend a lot of time perfecting the headlines in order to draw readers in. For example, loaded-question headlines such as, "Is Sitting a Lethal Activity" are extremely popular because they draw the reader in. While the answer to this is, "no of course not", by posing the headline as a question rather than a headline guards the blogger from being wrong. For example, a blogger could not write an article entitled "Sitting is a Legal Activity" because he or she would be wrong.

One thing I want to make clear is that this is not an attack on all blogs. I read a number of smaller blogs that are informative and where the authors have a genuine interest in informing the reader. This article was written to expose the general reader to the manipulations of the internet industry to increase traffic and money in their pockets at the expense of the reader. Readers beware!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 

      3 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      It certainly is something to think about. Voted up.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)