A New Study Says 6 In 10 Of You Will Share This Link Without Reading It

Everyone seems to be complaining about how everyone else is not reading, but a new study shows that more of us than we think could be implicated in a trend that proves that point.

The trend of sharing a link without reading the the actual content fully is getting even stronger.

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On June 4, the satirical news site the Science Post published a block of “lorem ipsum” text under a frightening headline: “Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting.” As expected, nearly 46,000 people shared the post, because everyone cares about reading culture right? Wrong.

without reading

The ardent sharers proved the point of the satirical post when they basically shared a link to gibberish and a new study is here to back up the embarrassing result.

According to a new study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute, 59 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked on, meaning that most people re-share news without reading it.

without reading

The sad bent of this reality is that these blind shares mostly determine the news articles that will get circulated and not drown under the often swirling and plenteous stream of news media.

So thoughtless shares are almost directly responsible for shaping our shared political and cultural agendas and that is a scary thought. Study co-author Arnaud Legout said in a statement;

“People are more willing to share an article than read it, this is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”

In the process of verifying the depressing statistic on how people are sharing links without reading, Legout and his co-authors collected two data sets. The first a compilation of all tweets containing Bit.ly-shortened links to five major news sources during a one-month period last summer; the second, on all of the clicks attached to that set of shortened links, as logged by Bit.ly, during the same period.

Afterwards they cleaned and collated the data, and had on their hands a tool or map which showed them how news goes viral on twitter.

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The nifty map showed that “viral” news is widely shared but not really read. Two other important observations that they made from the study were;

  • Most clicks to news stories were made on links shared by regular Twitter users, and not those shared by the media organization itself
  • The links that users clicked were much older than we generally assume — some had actually been published for several days

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The study is really saddening because a lot of people are leaning on skewed, misunderstood, misrepresented or straight-up fictitious titles and summaries and are not really using the news media to get informed.