Browse Definitions :
Definition

Betteridge's law (of headlines)

Betteridge's law (of headlines) is an adage that states "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no." The sweeping generalization refers to the poor journalistic practice of writing sensational headlines in the form of a question in order to compensate for the author's lack of facts. Much like Murphy’s Law -- anything that can go wrong will, and at the worst time possible -- Betteridge’s law is rooted in cynical humor.

Phrasing headlines as a question is a legitimate practice that has become closely associated with fake news due to its misuse. When a headline is phrased as a question to which the answer is "no," the author is free to ask hypothetical questions that are designed to appeal to emotion.

Examples of headlines that comply with Betteridge's law include:

Can Amazon Alexa be trusted?
Should Google Home fear Watson Assistant?
Will your next lawyer be named Siri?

Question-formatted headlines are often used for linkbaiting, the practice of crafting sensational content in hopes that readers and content providers will share the content with others. Question-formatted headlines are also used to spread disinformation because they can allow an unscrupulous author to imply that a subjective opinion is an objective fact.

Betteridge's law, which is named for technology journalist Ian Betteridge, has been a maxim of online journalism since the 1990s. The misuse of eye-catching questions in headlines to increase circulation, however, can be traced back to yellow journalism, scandal sheets and political tracts of centuries past.

See also: weaponized information

This was last updated in January 2018

Continue Reading About Betteridge's law (of headlines)

SearchCompliance

  • compliance risk

    Compliance risk is an organization's potential exposure to legal penalties, financial forfeiture and material loss, resulting ...

  • information governance

    Information governance is a holistic approach to managing corporate information by implementing processes, roles, controls and ...

  • enterprise document management (EDM)

    Enterprise document management (EDM) is a strategy for overseeing an organization's paper and electronic documents so they can be...

SearchSecurity

  • denial-of-service attack

    A denial-of-service (DoS) attack is a security event that occurs when an attacker makes it impossible for legitimate users to ...

  • information security (infosec)

    Information security, often shortened to infosec, is the practice, policies and principles to protect data and other kinds of ...

  • user authentication

    User authentication verifies the identity of a user attempting to gain access to a network or computing resource by authorizing a...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • call tree

    A call tree is a layered hierarchical communication model that is used to notify specific individuals of an event and coordinate ...

  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

    Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide ...

SearchStorage

  • cloud storage

    Cloud storage is a service model in which data is transmitted and stored on remote storage systems, where it is maintained, ...

  • cloud testing

    Cloud testing is the process of using the cloud computing resources of a third-party service provider to test software ...

  • storage virtualization

    Storage virtualization is the pooling of physical storage from multiple storage devices into what appears to be a single storage ...

Close