The Hairpin was a beloved women's and culture website that gave rise to brand name writers like Jia Tolentino and Jazmine Hughes until it shut down in 2018.
Nebojša Vujinović Vujo, the new website owner, told Wired in an interview that he had bought The Hairpin domain because it had a "great reputation and excellent backlinks."
Backlinks are when another site links back to your site, and they serve as the equivalent of endorsements in the world of search engine optimization (SEO). Having lots of high-quality backlinks boost a website's rankings when people search for specific content on Google.
Vujo's move basically made the website into a spammy site for clickbait, with inane and lurid content like "Dream Interpretation: Dying Fathers and Falling Cars" and "Celebrities All Have Little Real Teeth Under Their Big Fake Teeth."
In other words, how the mighty have fallen.
Spam and Eggs
Vujo says he's snatched up more than 2,000 websites with the same intent, telling Wired that it's a "common thing on the internet today."
Vujo and his acquisition of The Hairpin basically exemplifies all that is bad and rotten about today's internet: garbage search engine results that are a result of SEO manipulation and the proliferation of AI-generated spam content.
The problem that arises from these spammy clickbait websites is when legitimate advertisements are displayed alongside garbage AI-generated content, which could be interpreted as a form of fraud. But Vujo is just exploiting an inefficiency that's out in the open and milking it for all its worth.
It's a sad state of affairs — especially as even legitimate news outlets such as Sports Illustrated have been caught red handed posting AI-generated content.
There's no easy fix to these overlapping problems, but we are definitely in for a bumpy ride online.
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