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Summary:

The days of publishers showing “most e-mailed articles” may be numbered as readers abandon the familiar “email this” icon in favor of other ways of news sharing.

Email icon

Have you noticed your inbox contains fewer messages from friends who “thought you would be interested” in a random news article? A new survey shows that this type of news sharing has fallen off a cliff in recent months.

According to BuzzFeed, people e-mailing stories on its network of sites has dropped a whopping 61 percent — 13 million in January to 5 million in August. The survey counted the number of referrals sites like TMZ and the Daily Mail received from Gmail, Hotmail and other email services.

The likely explanation here, as you may have guessed, is not that people are reading or sharing less. Instead, it appears the email button is fading compared to other ways of sharing stories like Facebook or Pinterest. (And, of course, more people may be cutting and pasting the article URL instead of clicking the email button).

One result of the decreased use is that some publishers are tucking the familiar email icon into smaller corners. Another implication is that the “most e-mailed stories” box, long a fixture of the New York Times and other major news sites, may soon go the way of MySpace. The Atlantic’s new Quartz offering, for instance, does not have a “most emailed” display but simply a button that says popular.

(Image by amasterphotographer via Shutterstock)

  1. EU Brainwashing Friday, October 5, 2012

    I have never ‘shared’ an item – I think it is not polite to enter someone else’s email address into a website – my presumption is that these email addresses are harvested. I always click ‘file’ & ‘send link’ so easy as the address required is always in ones address-book already.

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  2. Thanks you.

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  3. I can’t believe this article made it past your editorial department.

    1. I can only speak for Mac and iOS but I routinely use the very convenient email share technology built into Safari, which sites like BuzzFeed cannot track. I assume Android has a similar feature. This way I can add a message and also keep a record.

    2. One site is not representative of the entire Internet. Hence, my comment about your editorial department. An editor would have added this disclaimer.

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  4. Kaizar Campwala Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    This needs to be matched against the movement to Chrome and Safari, which make it very easy to email URLs without using javascript email buttons. This is particularly true on fast-growing mobile platforms, where it is much easier to use the universal browser-level share features.

    Which is not to say there isn’t a shift in sharing from email to social networks, but that perhaps the decline isn’t as dramatically “off the cliff” as suggested in the article.

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