E-mail sharing is vanishing from the online news world

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 (s fb) 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)