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Facebook starts prompting users to read news articles before sharing them

FILE PHOTO: People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014. FILE PHOTO: People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014.
FILE PHOTO: People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Facebook logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014. (REUTERS)

In an attempt to cut down on misinformation, the social networking service will now display a message to users that says “sharing articles without reading them may mean missing key facts.”

Fake news is a big issue on most social media networks, and Facebook is no exception. A lot of misinformation that is shared on sites like Facebook and Twitter is due to people sharing and retweeting posts with article links without reading them. Last year, Twitter launched a feature that would nudge users to read the article before retweeting it, and now Facebook has begun rolling out a similar feature to users around the world.

Also read: How to spot misinformation online in 4 easy steps

The company announced on Monday that it was rolling out a popup that would help people be more informed about the content of the articles in posts they share on the platform. When users share posts on the app or website, they will now see a popup on the page that says “You’re about to share this article without opening it” followed by smaller text that says “Sharing articles without reading them may mean missing key facts.”

The feature is rolling out to only six percent of users on Android around the world, according to The Verge. But given Facebook’s massive userbase, that is still a large number of users and the number of people receiving the feature could increase if the results are positive. Facebook’s tweet announcing the rollout features a screenshot that gives us an idea of what the popup will look like.

Read more: Facebook Messenger crosses the 5 billion download mark on the Google Play Store

While the move to push readers to read the article first is a good one, it doesn’t always achieve the desired result. For example, if you read a news story in the Hindustan Times newspaper at 9 AM, then see a link to that story from the Hindustan Times account on Facebook at 2PM, you will still be shown the prompt to read the article before sharing it. Meanwhile, there is nothing stopping a user from clicking the option to ‘Continue Sharing’ instead of reading the article.

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