Scientists have discovered a massive asteroid that is on course to hit the Earth next week, and are scrambling to find a way to divert the object.
The asteroid has been named 2016-FI and measures approximately 1 km across. If it strikes a populated area is could wipe out entire cities and potentially devastate an entire continent or … nah. I’m totally messing with you. There’s no asteroid (at least not about to strike next week).
But there is a new study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute that has found that 59 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked, meaning that most people who share news on social media aren’t actually reading it first.
For the study, Arnaud Legout and co-authors collected two data sets:
the first, on 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. After cleaning and collating that data, the researchers basically found themselves with a map to how news goes viral on Twitter.
The map showed “viral” news is widely shared but not necessarily read.
According to the Washington Post, one thing study authors say is concerning about this is that it shapes the way we see the world.
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.”
This probably won’t shock most people. We see it all the time in comments sections – people making loud proclamations about stories they clearly haven’t read. Entire discussions are chaired by those who didn’t actually RTFA (Read the Fucking Article). It’s maddening.
What can you do about it?
RTFA, of course, and don’t share things you haven’t read. Being informed is being responsible.
So, have you made it this far or are you busy building a makeshift shelter in your basement?
If you read it, and want to comment, work a colour – red, blue, yellow, pink, whatever – into your comment, would you? But don’t ruin the headline for everyone else, OK? Thanks. You’re the best.