The ongoing villainizing of Facebook for its role as a disseminator of fake news and Russian-fed propaganda in the 2016 election necessarily leads to a discussion of another very significant villain: the laziness of an enormous segment of Facebook's user base who consume and share news only insofar as they read a headline and decide if they agree or disagree. If more people took the time to actually read the news they choose to share or comment on, perhaps more of us would feel informed rather than enraged — able to discuss an issue from several sides and reach a nuanced conclusion, and able to share that story with a comment that went beyond "LOL" or "told you so." So long as Facebook is more and more a primary portal to the day's news, Facebook users have to take some responsibility for what they share and comment upon, even if it is entirely trustworthy, because we are quickly becoming a nation of headline spewers, and less one of actual consumers of the news.

It's been widely discussed since long before the 2016 election cycle that we all create our own echo chambers on social media and tend to either ignore, hide, or block all those opinions that don't conform with ours. With the huge success of Facebook and its significant reach across the literate American populace, there arrives a trend that is larger and more dangerous than the sharing of opinions, and the desire or lack thereof to engage in debates with friends and family, whether it's about Obamacare or the relative talents of Katy Perry. As you surely know from your own feed, we are, more often than we're sharing our own original thoughts or photos, sharing news stories and links to funny things we see. Facebook is less and less becoming a way to be in touch with friends and family than it is a scrolling bulletin board of news, jokes, and clips from late-night TV, with a few kitten, puppy, and baby pics thrown in here and there.

The Information discussed this trend in April 2016, and how Facebook was going to have a problem going forward if users were using the platform less and less to share personal stories, pictures, or random thoughts. At the time, a full seven months before the election, Facebook was reportedly seeing a 21 percent drop in "original sharing." Fortune pegged this to a common trend over the last two decades, writing, "Facebook’s decline in personal updates reflects a common growing pain for online communities. What starts out as as special and intimate place to share things grows into a big, impersonal, and professional platform." Places like Reddit have flourished because they encourage originality, open discussion, and discourage recycling and repeating old news — but Reddit's free-for-all structure has caused some growing pains for it as well.

The threat to Facebook at the time was painted as being one of a loss of "intimacy" on the platform, when it becomes filled with too much professionally produced content and not enough of the personal stuff we most want to see from people we care about.

But there's a bigger problem that comes back to Facebook's reluctant — some would say completely-in-denial-about — role as a functioning media company. Instead of turning to a trusted blog or news organization to curate your day's headlines based on relevance, urgency, newsworthiness, and truth, more and more of you are trusting your friends (some very educated, perhaps, some not), coworkers, former classmates, and jackass relatives to curate your News Feed for you. The more incendiary a headline, the more likes it gets, the higher it rises in your personal algorithm and the more you're likely to see and possibly share it yourself.

That would be all well and good if a) the internet were not littered with poorly reported and/or baldly false bullshit, and b) more people took the time to read full articles and assess their quality before sharing or commenting on them, thereby possibly applying their own skepticism to the article's worth.

Is everyone going to be as shrewd of a newshound or curator as, say, your favorite history professor in college or your cousin who's clerking for a Supreme Court justice? Of course not. But a study out of Columbia University earlier this year found that 59% of links that get shared on social media are never clicked upon, meaning well over half of the stories being disseminated in your feed aren't showing up there for any reason beyond their headlines. And this means that, on average, you are more than 50% likely to blindly share a headline without taking the time to read the article supporting it.

Similarly, there have been stunts like this one in the Science Times, where they put up a headline saying "70% of Facebook users only read the headline of science stories before commenting." The story itself was all "lorem ipsum" placeholder text, and yet it got over 57,000 shares, and who knows how many comments on those shares.

What this means is that Facebook can hire a million more unfortunate souls to sort through fake news and moderate content, and it may not even matter. A story that might be 20% untrustworthy and 80% fact-based is certainly going to pass muster, and it will be shared far and wide based on its headline alone. As PBS reported in June, a recent study also found that humans are far better judges of truth from fiction when the volume of information — or the number of news stories in their feeds — is lower. Obviously, we're overwhelmed by news now, and no one has time to read it all, but we'd better get better at reading some of it, and learn to be less quick to hit the share button when we don't.

The implications of this for the journalism industry itself are also huge, and being felt daily. If a majority of people are only reading and sharing headlines, and doing so on Facebook or another aggregator like Apple News, none of that traffic — and its incumbent ad revenue — is coming to the news organizations themselves.

I also should not discount the role the smartphone has played in these habits. More and more people consume news in miniature, as an efficient swipe of a finger, and there is a satisfaction to feeling like you have just gotten a lowdown of the state of the world in a few quick seconds. But this makes the job of any journalist a frustrating one, knowing that the majority of eyeballs are going to land on and decide to click upon the sensational, the happy, or the cute, and that hard news is almost always going to be scrolled past with a sigh.

Then there are those who do click on stories but only read their lead paragraphs before moving on. As the editor of a news blog for several years, and a writer on the internet for well over a decade, I can't count the number of times I've stared in frustration as a commenter complained about something that was based on some assumption about the story in question, but in the comment's substance betrayed the fact that they had not read past the first paragraph before expressing their thoughts.

Just yesterday, commenting on Facebook on my headline about San Francisco's new Michelin star recipients, and the fact that Coi just received its third Michelin star, someone wrote, "Unless it's changed since I was there about five years ago, a Coi meal is more interesting than delicious." Had that person taken even seconds to click the link first and read only the opening paragraph, he would have learned that Coi has had a new executive chef for nearly two years, and the menu has, in fact, completely changed, rendering this comment moot and useless.

But let's say this were a news story about something much more urgent and important to human lives in this country. And let's say the commenter and several people he knows commented upon the post and shared it, with several more people in their networks reading only the headline and the comment, believing the comment to be trustworthy because it came from someone they love or trust, when in fact no one in the chain of sharing had even read the story, and they were all simply using their personal echo chambers to vet and re-share something useless, and/or entirely false.

The subject of "fake news," and questions about the relative biases or trustworthiness of various news organizations, are likely to persist for as long we have our current president, and perhaps longer. But everyone who now uses Facebook (or Twitter for that matter) to consume their news headlines and occasionally share them needs to better understand their complicity and participation in a vast new machine that has no editor-in-chief, no scruples, and very often, no authority to speak on the topic at hand. We are now each others' editors and news anchors, whether we realize it or not. We should be taking a few seconds, when necessary, to call out a friend's choice to share or comment on something that has been debunked by Snopes. We should be taking a few more minutes on the long-reads that seem important, rather than scrolling endlessly through Apple News or Facebook or Twitter, getting the briefest, shallowest overview of our present world, when the complexities of this world demand a far deeper understanding, and a much better informed populace.

Americans are getting far more information every day than they have time to sort through, and Zuckerberg can only do so much to save us from ourselves. We are going to need to be each others' news police, at least until our current epoch's information tsunami gains a few more worthy gatekeepers, curators, and editors.

And we're going to need to start reading more, and doing less scanning, blind sharing, and chattering on about things we have not read from start to finish. This is no time to find out too late that you've been made a fool.