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It's a big news, shocking, yet amazing, and entertaining to the world. But unluckily, it has nothing to do with aliens stoners melding with Earth's plants. 

But, since you're now reading, you'll almost definitely be concerned about this research that looked into the clicking and sharing activities of social media users reading content (or not) and then sharing it on social media.

I have noticed long ago that several of our followers will happily like, share and offer an opinion on an article - all without ever reading it. We're not the only ones to notice this. Last April, NPR shared an article on their Facebook page which asked "Why doesn't America read anymore?” The joke, of course, is that there was no article. They waited to see if their followers would weigh in with an opinion without clicking the link, and they weren't disappointed.

We've been hoping for a chance to try it ourselves, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Yackler had some fun with the same article and managed to fool a bunch of people.

A group of computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute looked into a dataset of over 2.8 million online news articles that were shared via Twitter. The study found that up to 59 percent of links shared on Twitter have never actually been clicked by that person’s followers, suggesting that social media users are more into sharing content than actually clicking on and reading it.

“People are more willing to share an article than read it,” the study’s co-author Arnaud Legout said in a statement, Washington Postreports. “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 study looks into the psychology behind what makes people want to share content. Research conducted by The New York Times Customer Insight Group looked into what motivates people to share information. Just under half of the people asked in the survey said they share information on social media to inform people and to “enrich” those around them. Conversely, they found 68 percent share to reinforce and project a certain image of themselves – in a sense, to “define” themselves.

In the words of one participant from the study: “I try to share only information that will reinforce the image I’d like to present: thoughtful, reasoned, kind, interested and passionate about certain things.”

It also raises the question of whether online media is just a massive “echo chamber”, where we all just like pages and viewpoints that reinforce our own beliefs and are not interested in information for the sake of information. Even the algorithms of social media sites mean that individuals or pages that you tend to click on, like, or share – which are most often the articles or viewpoints that you agree with – will more frequently turn up on your News Feed.

As a user of online media, you’re probably quite aware of this.

Take a look at any comment on social media pages, including those, of course, on the IFLScience Facebook page. It’s particularly noticeable on the more “emotive” and controversial of subjects; think climate change, GMOs, vaccinations, aliens, and a lot of our articles on marijuana, where the top comments often repeat or question something that is fairly explicitly in the article, but not the headline. Our article about capuchins monkeys enteringthe stone age was met with many of the top comments on the Facebook postpointing out they’ve done this for hundreds of years, despite that being the first thing the article said if you read it. Although from our analytics it's impossible to see which users did not click through to the article yet shared it, there is fairly often a slightly fine discrepancy between shares and page views which doesn't quite add up, especially on those buzz subjects.

So, if you are one of the lucky few who managed to click and read this article, we congratulate you! Although we do apologize for the misleading headline. In the meanwhile, have fun sharing the article and seeing who manages to chair a discussion on marijuana genetics, without ever reading it.

1 comment

  1. You were such an inspiration to me that I decided to share here my own intro to your article. This is, was, for those who do not click to read. "It's out of the box and over the moon. Now we know."

    I have been been holding this information back, after learning that it had been classified, and waiting for the day when it could be confirmed. This is that day.
    In a study of the claims that those who use marijuana for not only medical but for recreational use we have discovered that no less then 95% the population of users have discovered a desire to actively pursue peace with in their social community while 14% reach out further to a population that does not have access to this amazing Alien DNA that changes the brain into a proactive vehicle of peace.
    In their move to bring peace on earth, our off planet brothers and sisters from galaxies that have not yet been scientifically determined, were able to see far enough into our futures to know that this planet would need something that would bring about a natural mind of man and its kind that would begin a reign of peace through out our colonies and eventually the entire population of the planet we call earth.

    While most claims of alien DNA found in comets and asteroids are talking about unknowns that have nothing to do with actual living beings, the DNA discovered in the marijuana plant points to a near human genetic mixture of animal and Mammal RNA that would share the genetic codes of their own make up that instills an attitude of peaceful acceptance of and coexistence with the life around them, combined with a code that causes enough curiosity to seek to bring new forms of peace into the very structure of life itself.

    Through their own studies of the evolving life of what would come to be known as humans, and now geared with the understanding that humans would not have any of the genetic coding that would enable them to move beyond the flight or fight syndrome, they began to genetically encode a plant that would contain all of the ingredients that would bind with the molecular structure of the active proteins at work with in the brain to affect the very fiber of the electromagnetic structure around them.
    This Alien DNA is derived from the Aliens themselves.
    While it was understood that the religious institutions would be able to instill a sense of purpose in many, through their continued study of the further expanding societies they came to realize that a large percent, no less then 40 to 70 percent of our population, would begin to turn from the notion of religion to instill these ethical beliefs. This was the driving force behind the integrating of their peaceful DNA into the seeds that would be delivered to the planet through a series of asteroids aimed to our planet. When the time was right these seeds would produce the plant marijuana and would be discovered by those who had found that life was like a bowl of cheerios, circular, often uneventful, and fulfilling for only a brief period of time, increasing the hunger and the cries for 'more'.

    Those who began to experiment with the plant would find that they now had such an understanding of the deeper meaning of life that they would want to insure that the rest of the people of the planet had access to it. This is the reason for the sudden onset of legalization of this amazing and controversial plant. The healing properties are actually a gnome distribution that not only heals but reorganizes the fiber, atoms, and the neurological network of the entire brain as well as the physical body of those with ailments such as cancer, changing the RNA of the blood and creating a literally new lease on life.
    See, below, for yourself what our brothers and sisters are made up of.
    It's out The box and over the moon. Now we know.


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