Beware of Misleading Headlines

Take this Time online article: “How To Avoid That Scary 60 Minutes iPhone Hack.”

Just from the title you would think it is about the iPhone. The implication is that there is something wrong with the iPhone. If you don’t read the article, then you would infer that the iPhone has a security flaw. That’s what I thought.

Only after reading the article do you realize that it’s really not about the iPhone at all. There was a demonstration with Congressman Ted Lieu (D-California) using an iPhone, but it was to show a security flaw with cellular networks. Note this line in the article: “The hackers were targeting the network, not the individual phones on either end of the call.” Also: “The hack, carried out with the politician’s consent, was meant to demonstrate a security flaw in the global communications grid.”

So, there was nothing wrong with the iPhone in this instance. Then why imply it in the headline? And why show a large photo of the iPhone?

These misleading headlines are all too common on the Internet. With so many outlets fighting for eyeballs it is tempting to sensationalize a news story, even going so far as to trick users with clickbait headlines.