Antisocial Media

Much is made of the noxious atmosphere in blog and newspaper comment sections. “See,” say critics, “this is what you get with anonymous comments.” That may be true, but people who sign their name aren’t any better.

Take Facebook, for example.

News outlets have gotten in the habit of posting stories to their Facebook site, and the posts often get hundreds of comments — many of them amazingly insulting and abusive. Here’s a sample from a story a local TV station posted about a couple accused in an animal abuse case:


Let’s be clear: abusing animals is abhorrent to me, but the people in question haven’t been convicted of anything, just arrested. We’re not just throwing the accused into the stocks, but lining up the villagers to hurl tomatoes at them.

Can’t they moderate this stuff? Of course — but I’m told it would be impossible due to the huge number of comments. Filters can be set to screen bad language and individual complaints can be fielded, but a full-time commitment to Facebook comments isn’t something a local TV station can afford.

You could argue that comment abusers are violating Facebook’s terms of service and that page owners are not responsible. That might be technically correct — but if your name is at the top of the page, it’s not that simple.

4 thoughts on “Antisocial Media

  1. I think the real question is why can’t these people spell?

    Who ABUSERS animals?!!!

    I have read statements from individuals for my job and it always surprises me that no matter how bad I have seen people spell or use grammar there is always someone worse tomorrow. I had one case regarding a supervisor calling an employee a “dldo” that was witnessed by seven others, and I got five different spellings of the word “dildo” – what does that tell you about the sorry state of today’s education?!?!?

    1. I would have a hard time (no pun intended) taking the dildo case seriously. So much for ever holding a grown up job.

      But anyway, dildo is a hilarious word; naturally I looked it up in Wikipedia:

      The etymology of the word dildo is unclear. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) describes the word as being of “origin unknown”. One theory is that it originally referred to the phallus-shaped peg used to lock an oar in position on a dory (small boat). It would be inserted into a hole on the side of the boat, and is very similar in shape to the modern toy. It is possible that the sex toy takes its name from this sailing tool, which also lends its name to the town of Dildo and the nearby Dildo Island in Newfoundland, Canada. Others suggest the word is a corruption of Italian diletto (for “delight”).

      Now we know.

  2. More comments and more “likes” on those comments means that Facebook shows that post to more people. Which means more people see it and leave mindless comments without actually clicking through and reading the stories, which means that Facebook shows the post to more people, which means that more people click through…

    It goes on, and it explains why the mindless comments stay up.

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