Should we be wary of articles shared by friends on social networks?

On social media, everything is often – if not all the time – about looks, and people are quick to show off another side online to make themselves “better” or smarter. Now, research suggests that sharing news articles can boost a user’s self-confidence – even if they haven’t read a single line of the story.

You’ve probably come across them in Instagram Stories, or posted on Twitter and Facebook, as many users share news articles through their social media accounts. But what are their reasons for publishing these stories?

According to a study carried out by the Customer Insight Group for the New York Times, sharing information online allows users to feel more involved in the world and project a better image of themselves. Of 2,500 people surveyed, 68% even said it helps them give people a better sense of who they are and what interests them.

“Our research shows that this new information-sharing environment can also transform the way we understand each other. When we share information on social media, we’re not just sharing news – we’re also sharing a picture of who we are and what we know. Our research shows that the signals our behavior sends to others can influence how we view ourselves; we begin to see ourselves as we believe we are seen by others,” Dr. Adrian Ward, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Texas, told Medical News Today.

So could news sharing improve people’s self-perception? So suggests a study published in July 2022 in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. The simple act of sharing information apparently makes people more confident and above all better informed about the information shared, even if they have only read the title of the article. Only 28% of respondents said they had read an entire article before sharing it on social networks, while 25% admitted to having read only a few lines.

According to another study conducted by the same researchers, people who had shared an article, even if they had not read it, had a better perception of their knowledge of a subject, and therefore considered themselves more informed in this area. This erroneous self-perception can lead people to believe that they are more legitimate in sharing information and giving advice, sometimes leading to the spread of false information.

“Since information sharers acquire subjective – not necessarily objective – knowledge and these people are likely to share more information, it is possible that they contribute to the dissemination of false or misleading information”, Dr. Kim Dam Hee, assistant professor of communication at the University of Arizona, said Medical News Today.

“Feeling more informed than we actually are can have detrimental consequences not only for people’s personal behavior, but also for the ability to communicate with others and function as a society,” Dr Ward said. – AFP Relax News

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