Web Users Quick to Share Stories Without Reading Them

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There is no shortage of politically charged news shared on social media. But do you actually read the articles you tweet or add to Facebook before posting them?

According to a new study from Columbia University and the French National Institute, 59 percent of URLs mentioned on Twitter are never opened, despite being shared thousands of times. Meaning, many people see things on their Twitter or Facebook feeds and blindly share them without clicking through to the linked story.

Tracking links from five popular domains—BBC, CNN, Fox News, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post—researchers studied conversations and clicks for URLs on Twitter and bit.ly during one month last summer. Unsurprisingly, news dominated social media chatter. But, perhaps more interesting is the stories we share—real-time events, breaking news—can directly shape the collective conversation. Unfortunately, that conversation is not informed by careful reading.

"People are more willing to share an article than read it," study co-author Arnaud Legout told The Washington Post. "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."

This comes the week after the 2016 Reuters Institute Digital News Report tipped Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter as dominating online news sources, particularly among 18- to 24-year-olds. According to the report, fewer people are paying for online news in the US, and more folks are turning on ad blockers.

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