I have always believed that trolls and very negative comments create a hostile environment on our blog and shut down the conversation. But now we know, according to a new study, those extremely negative comments do much more damage – actually distorting the facts presented in the article.
“The Web, it should be said, is still a marvelous place for public debate. But when it comes to reading and understanding news stories online — like this one, for example — the medium can have a surprisingly potent effect on the message. Comments from some readers, our research shows, can significantly distort what other readers think was reported in the first place.”
“But here, it’s not the content of the comments that matters. It’s the tone.
“In a study published online last month in The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, we and three colleagues report on an experiment designed to measure what one might call “the nasty effect.” …
“Our emerging online media landscape has created a new public forum without the traditional social norms and self-regulation that typically govern our in-person exchanges — and that medium, increasingly, shapes both what we know and what we think we know.”
What are your thoughts about this study? Do you think the comments influence how you read the article? Do you ever just read the headline and then skip to the comments?
What do you think we should do to cut the negativity and have constructive conversations online?