Have you noticed that lately the seemingly-otherwise-intelligent folks whose daily musings populate your Facebook newsfeed are reading a lot about Snooki, Miley Cyrus or other celebrities doing outlandish things? A number of “social reader” apps are to thank – or, as it may be, curse – for that.

 

Have you noticed that lately the seemingly-otherwise-intelligent folks whose daily musings populate your Facebook newsfeed are reading a lot about Snooki, Miley Cyrus or other celebrities doing outlandish things?

A number of “social reader” apps are to thank – or, as it may be, curse – for that.

Over 21 million people have installed the Washington Post Social reader app, according to a Quora post last week from chair Don Graham. The Guardian has reported that it has seen an increase in traffic since implementing the social reader.  And according to InsideFacebook, Yahoo! Reader tops the Monthly Active Users list, with over 29 million.

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Sure, the applications are driving traffic to news outlets websites but is it worth the potential annoyance to unsuspecting Facebook users who find their newsfeeds full of non-news celebrity stories? (Let's face it — that's what the majority of the stories these social readers are spreading are.)

The Columbia Journalism Review questioned the ethics of such news sharing apps in a post last week. In it, they noted that, despite the page that prompts users to authorize the application to use and post their data, there is no context being added – you can’t tell if the person liked or hated the story, you simply know that they read it.

What do you think of social reader apps? Do you think the benefits for news organizations outweigh the potential annoyances? Have you learned things about your friends through their reading habits that you wish you hadn’t?

Let us know. Comment below or tweet us @jsource