Scott Monty

Scott Monty

How often do you share links online? Probably every day. And multiple times a day, at that. But of the content you share, do you actually read all of it? Or do you simply share a link because you liked the headline?

A recent study showed that 60% of people will share an article online without having read it.

Think about that for a moment. Sixty percent. That's an awful lot of content that's being shared without being read. Now, the hope is that we're not all avoiding the same 60% of content. But it leaves us with the inescapable reality that we're walking around, as uninformed as we choose to be.

Before the Internet, when people used to share articles, they clipped them out of magazines and newspapers. And they did it because there was something compelling about the article, not just about the headlines — although the New York Post has always been masterful about how they handle their tabloid headlines — but those headlines are meant to sell the paper. Once you had the paper and were interested in clipping and sharing an article, the entire article was there on the page for you to read.

These days, we're not exposed to the full article when we see a headline race past our feed on Facebook or Twitter. We're given a decision to make — literally hundreds of times a day — on what's worthy of our feed. Because we make judgments from headlines alone and we in turn are judged based on what we share. There should be a great lesson for you in the power of headlines and the ability to craft opinion based on short sentences. Twitter, anyone?

But here's the rub: the algorithms that power newsfeeds on Facebook, Twitter and others are designed to give us more of what they think we want – which means that the version of the world we encounter every day in our own personal stream has been invisibly curated to reinforce our pre-existing beliefs. This is why it seems so uncommon for some people to see Trump or Brexit supporters in their feed — and yet both movements have been the recipients of surprising support in the polls. If we're not seeing the content, we're isolated in some way from the reality of the situation.

So in the end, we all have a responsibility. As readers and sharers of content, we have the responsibility to more thoroughly read and consume content before we share it — even if it reinforces a stance we want to take. Or perhaps especially if it reinforces a stance we want to take.

And as marketers and communicators who create the content, we have the responsibility to accurately reflect the core takeaways of our material in the headlines or short descriptions about it. When misinformed opinion gets shared online, creators are equally as, if not more responsible than the people who blindly share the content.

In case you'd like to listen to above rant and the previous one about live video, you can catch it in my podcast, The Full Monty. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spreaker or SoundCloud.


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