More than half (59 per cent) links shared on micro-blogging website Twitter are never clicked including by the people who share them, a new study has found.
The researchers from Microsoft and Columbia University collected the data over a month and included 2.8 million shares on Twitter, encompassing shared links to the BBC, CNN, Fox News, The New York Times and the Huffington Post.
"It is the first of its kind study," Fortune quoted the study's authors as saying. "...there seems to be vastly more niche content that users are willing to mention in Twitter than... content that they are actually willing to click on," they added.
The bulk of actual clicks on social media were generated by a small group of 'blockbuster' articles, with about nine percent of shared links capturing about 90 percent of Twitter clicks, the study added.
The study also found that despite Twitter's reputation as a "live" platform, clicks have a consistent "long tail", with tweets generating a steady drip of shares and clicks even after an initial 24 hour surge.
The findings suggested that exaggerated headlines could be self-defeating on social media.
"Sensational or misleading heads may be more useful for social sharers looking to make a point about themselves, than for actual readers trying to curate their information intake," it said.
It is clear that social sharing is less directly connected to news impact than has been widely assumed, the study concluded.