Facebook tests new feature checking people actually read articles before sharing

A new feature being trialled on Facebook hopes to encourage people to actually read articles before sharing them.

A mock-up of Facebook's new feature in testing, prompting people to read news articles before sharing them. Source:

The test, announced yesterday, will see an on-screen message pop up if someone attempts to use the "share" feature on an article before they've clicked the link.

The prompt reads: "You're about to share this article without opening it. Sharing articles without reading them may mean missing key facts."

People then have the option to open the article or share the link regardless.

It's being trialled worldwide but only on Android at this stage, Facebook says, affecting around 6 per cent of its global Android audience.

But what links will be affected? Facebook is being scarce on the details, a spokesperson only telling 1 NEWS it would impact "news links".

They were unable to clarify what will determine if a domain is classified as a "news link", including whether there'll be a division between known media outlets and blog sites.

However, the spokesperson says they hope it'll be a "step forward in our efforts to improve digital literacy".

"Our research and related tests have shown that prompts are an effective way for us to help provide more context and keep people on Facebook better informed," the spokesperson says.

"We would like to prevent the sharing of content without proper context which can lead to the spread of misinformation."

According to the social media giant, it has around 1.8 billion daily active users, which would mean around 110 million people could be part of the trial.

It follows a similar move by fellow social media giant Twitter, which rolled out a feature encouraging people to read articles before retweeting last year — also initially trialled on Android devices.

Twitter said it found people open the article 40 per cent more often after seeing the prompt.

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