We like to make fun of Facebook for copying features off of other platforms, but this time around it’s probably a good idea: Facebook is testing a feature that will remind users they should read an article before sharing it — just like Twitter. In fact, the company shared the news on Twitter, perhaps as a subtle acknowledgement of this fact.
Starting today, we’re testing a way to promote more informed sharing of news articles. If you go to share a news article link you haven’t opened, we’ll show a prompt encouraging you to open it and read it, before sharing it with others. pic.twitter.com/brlMnlg6Qg
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) May 10, 2021
If you try to share an article on Facebook you haven’t opened yourself, you’ll be reminded that you should, you know, read it. You can still go ahead and share it — you might’ve already read the article elsewhere, for instance — but this could be a welcome deterrent to keep people from sharing unreliable articles mindlessly.
And before you say that such a feature won’t stop anyone from sharing dumb articles, I wouldn’t be quite so skeptical. When Twitter tested this feature before launching it more widely, it found people opened articles 40% more often after seeing the prompt, and that many people ended up not sharing an article once they actually read them.
That’s not to say Facebook will see quite the same results — especially now that some Trump-related disinformation has died down down — but it could be a welcome addition. As a reporter that has responded to far too many comments and emails from people who didn’t bother to read an article beyond the headline, I’m all for it.
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