Many Web sites include buttons or links (sharing tools) that allow users to conveniently share news stories and other information with friends, family and colleagues via e‐mail. This paper reports on an exploratory study of the design and functional features of sharing tools on a sample of 11 US newspaper Web sites. The authors examined the appearance, location, and features of sharing tools that are provided to both senders and recipients. Sample news stories were also “shared” with one of the authors using each of the sharing tools, and data about the appearance and content of these messages were collected. The major findings of the study suggest that on the sampled Web sites: there is lack of standardisation in the visual design and placement of the sharing tools; insufficient information is provided to the user about how to use the tool; information about the security and privacy is absent or incomplete; and many tools cannot be user‐customized, and are not convenient to use.
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