The Headline Should Be Enough

The headline of an article at the Science Post said, “Study: 70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting.” Before you know it, 46,000 people had shared the article on social media. It was a viral hit! But the kicker is that the Science Post is a satirical website (the headlines in the sidebar are hilarious), and the article itself only has one relevant paragraph that paraphrases the headline. Then there are three longer paragraphs of lorem ipsum placeholder text. So not only do people comment before reading an article, they also share before reading!

Now, as if it needed further proof, the satirical headline's been validated once again: 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: In other words, most people appear to retweet news without ever reading it.

Worse, the study finds that these sort of blind peer-to-peer shares are really important in determining what news gets circulated and what just fades off the public radar. So your thoughtless retweets, and those of your friends, are actually shaping our shared political and cultural agendas.

"People are more willing to share an article than read it," study co-author Arnaud Legout said in a statement. "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."

Of course, you already knew that. The study was done on news articles only, and not everyday blog posts. Here’s the study, in case you really want to go deeper. -via reddit

(Image credit: LPS.1)


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