Is there a word that can be used as the role of sharing an article (without it being specific to a platform like social media, phone or mail)? I've come to understand that "sharer" does not suit this role.
The need to keep it generic makes this one a bit difficult, because each medium tends have its own terminology - for example, retweet if you're sharing a Twitter "article". But my best attempt is:
a person who forwards.
and then the verb form of forward:
to send forward; transmit, especially to a new address: to forward a letter.
It's common parlance for mail and email, reasonable for phones which have call forwarding, it could be applied to social media because sharing is similar enough to the act of forwarding other media - but it would probably sound archaic. Like the following:
Dad: Hey daughter, I forwarded you a tweet. On Twitter.
Daughter: [rolls eyes] Dad, it's called "retweeting".
It is based on the context that the person who is sharing an article is doing so in order to influence people and change their behavior.
a person or thing that influences: The most powerful influencer of beliefs is direct experience.
a person who has the power to influence many people, as through social media or traditional media:Companies look for Facebook influencers who can promote their brand.
I think there are a variety of possible words or phrases one could use depending on what aspect of the role you are trying to emphasize.
If you are trying to point out the culpability of the person in the making of a "viral" story, one could use either patient zero for the originator of the story being shared, or a carrier for someone who is actively participating in the chain. Both of these would imply a negative view of viral stories.
If you are trying to emphasize the fact that the person transmits many stories to many people, one could use the word conduit to describe the role, which both emphasizes their role as a source of transmission as well as implying some significant volume of stories being transmitted.
If you are trying to emphasize the pettiness or salaciousness of the stories being shared, as well as their apparent volume, you could use gossipmonger or yenta to describe them.
Finally, if you are trying to emphasize the truthfulness or importance of the stories being shared, you could call them a news desk or news source.