The above story was shared by over a million people on Facebook, and as many as 60 million people may have seen it.

Headline and caption read:

Science Says: Your “Meanest” Friend Is The One Who Actually Wants The Best For You: If you have a friend you love, but at times can’t stand because their harsh (though true) words can hurt like needles – you can’t help but think that they are just being mean.…

Go to the article, use the moves and determine:

  • Is the research publication source credible?
  • Do the research authors have relevant expertise?
  • Do the headline and blurb accurately summarize the research?

After doing the above, you might engage in one or more of the following activities:

  • Find a better headline. The finding was widely reported in the press under different headlines. Go to Google News and search on the researcher name and topic and look at the various headlines. Choose the best headline given the research finding. Consider the ways in which the publication with the best headline is or is not different from the other publications.
  • Consider why this headline and blurb were successful. This headline, photo, and blurb, from a relatively small blog, outperformed most other headlines and blurbs on Facebook. Come up with a guess as to what made this headline, blurb, and photo combination more viral than other headlines. Was it just luck and timing, or do you think the features of the Facebook card were particularly effective at getting people to share.
  • Discuss the possible harm. Whether or not this headline is correct, discuss the possible harm that clickbait science headlines might cause. Is it just harmless fun? Or does it do real damage?