Typically, I like to stay away from the comments sections. The worst offenders are found on YouTube, reading them is likely to frustrate and offend. While some might be of the opinion that closing the comments section is a violation of freedom of speech – I’m all for shutting them down if they start getting offensive and unreasonable. That doesn’t mean that comments should be banned – they are still places where meaningful discussion take place.
Reason of Closing the Comments Section 1: Comments often devolve into cesspools.
However, if the comments do start to get out of hand where it devolves into a crude cesspool of “opinions” that resembles a shouting match between thugs more than a civilized discussion, where the loudest and most grossly repeated lines drown out everything else. Sometimes these comments are even abusive.
Benjamin Franklin had famously said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch”. What this means is that in order for a good democracy to work a reasonable and decent mind set has to be instilled in the people first. The anonymity of the internet, however, means that such users are constantly lurking about and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to police and reinforce decency in such an environment.
Reason of Closing the Comments Section 2: Victim’s misogyny/misandry abuse often treated indifferently by others.
Statistically, more women report being on the receiving end of mean comments – even death threats. And to make things worse, women (or anyone for that matter) who report abuse on the internet are almost always ignored by the authorities. An article by the American Psychological Association states that emotional and psychological abuse is as bad as physical abuse, if not worse in some aspects.
Whatever the reason, popular media platforms (and a good number of YouTube Japanese YouTube users), especially those dealing with highly controversial material, have decided that enough is enough. They opt to close the comments sections indefinitely. Not that I mind it that much if I can just enjoy my reading/streaming without accidentally taking a peek at the comments section (and regretting it).
Cyber bullying is a worldwide problem. In July 2016, the Singapore government introduced a new law to take action on those who use the internet to abuse others. According to the bill, stalking, bullying, sexual harassment and harassment of children are regarded as cyber bullying. Along with the United States, Singapore has the highest rates of reported cyber bullying. And with 80% of the population connected, it represents a very pervasive issue in society as a whole.
Reason of Closing the Comments Section 3: Moderation efforts not worth the benefits anymore.
Media platforms monitor their comments sections closely for non-constructive, irrelevant or downright abusive posts. The perpetrators are typically warned for their misconduct, and their posts removed or their accounts banned if they fail to comply. Moderation is done to help filter out toxicity from drowning out otherwise meaningful discussions, which otherwise go unnoticed. The average reader (including myself) dislikes having to go through a mountain pile of negativity in an effort to find something worth reading or discussing.
However, when the civility or the comments section takes a ride off the cliff then the benefits from careful moderation is becomes null. Some media platforms report as high as 80% of comments either being completely irrelevant or toxic. Moderation is a time-consuming and tedious process and is not worth the effort in order to save a few reasonable ones.
But not moderating comments is not a viable option, either. In fact, bad comments have the potential to utterly destroy a site’s reputation and credibility. Therefore, in the absence of moderation it’s simply better to remove the comments section entirely. Regardless of what pro-comments advocates say, not having a comments section does not really stop good content from receiving traffic. In fact, quite a few do better because visitors who peruse these sites feel safer and happier.
Reason of Closing the Comments Section 4: Social media helps cut down on unverified user comments.
Turning off the comments section means that discussions cannot take place. Fortunately, enforcing user accountability through verification can help regulate toxic comments. One of the reasons why there never seems to be an end to the flood of negative comments seems to take pop up on comments sections like moulds and fungus is because of the anonymity afforded by the Internet.
Some argue that this anonymity allows users to be more speak their mind more openly in relatively safety from authorities who might not take too kindly to their opinions, but that doesn’t mean that baseless defamation or political bullying is okay.
Social media platforms like Facebook go through great lengths to verify that an account is real. Users are allowed to report accounts that they suspect are fake, which helps it self-regulate. And here’s where we’re getting at: real users are less likely to make posts on a whim when their real life reputation is at stake and therefore would only do so if they strongly feel about what they’re saying.
Reason of Closing the Comments Section 5: Social Media provides more genuine market research.
Because social media platforms are generally inhabited by real accounts that represent actual people, it’s only natural that marketers can tap into. While a traditional survey could take months to properly plan and carry out, the same thing would only take an hour or so on social media.
According to a survey conducted by Insights in marketing, about 78% of companies involved were planning to fully integrate social media data into its marketing. It is mainly used for brand analysis, campaign tracking, competitor analysis and customer care/engagement.