Social Question

MrLove's avatar

When does a comments section in an online newspaper cross the line?

Asked by MrLove (786points) January 21st, 2017

Here in the UK, we are unfortunate to have the Daily Mail.

If you have never come across this ‘newspaper’ before, then you have won the proverbial lottery. It is kind of known to be full of misogynistic, sexist, racially motivated comments as well as basically referring to anybody over the age of 35 as being old and should be put down like an ill dog.

But enough about the articles as this is more about the comments section.

In a recent article discussing the marches around the world against Donald Trump, one post had over 11,000 comments. Contained within these comments were a large number that were misogynistic, sexist and downright degrading towards women.

For example, ‘selfish bitches’, ‘they are all on their period together’, ‘they all have unwashed knickers’, ‘they should be at home pleasing their husbands’, ‘tarts’, ‘cows’, ‘millions of men are now going without dinner’ the list goes on and on.

Now, these comments have been left unmoderated by the newspaper (for some reason they only decide to moderate certain articles mainly about celebrities and what shoes they are wearing) so my question is this.

At what point should a newspaper be held responsible and to what degree based on the comments section? Are they correct in allowing sexist comments (or in other articles they have allowed things that would constitute hate speech) to remain?

Is it somehow different because it is online?


Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

I can’t answer the question.

But I can give you the comfort of knowing that in the US too, newspaper site commenters are mostly angry old retired white men.

It’s a source of amusement.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^Gimme a break, Jay. How the hell do you know that?

Brian1946's avatar

⅔ of the commenters in this thread fit the description posted by @Call_Me_Jay. ;-o

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

⅔ of the population here is also female.

flutherother's avatar

According to Wikipedia MailOnLine is funded by advertising. This may explain why it prefers quantity of comments over quality. It is apparently the most visited newspaper website in the world.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus OK, true. I just know that newspaper comments are filled with racism, misogyny, and general conservative dumbassery.

Also, The Mail in particular in its news section is filled with racism, misogyny, and general conservative dumbassery.

The paper earned its nickname The Daily Heil for its enthusiasm for British Nazis and maintains its conservative cred today

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Yeah. That’s sad when that happens. Spreads the hate. Trolls become way over-represented. My hometown paper finally just dispensed with the comments section because it became a home for fascist trolls and not representative of the paper, or it’s general readership.

If I were an editor I would first eliminate anything ad hominem. That’s not a very fine line, that is a very obvious one. Generalized attacks on a certain type of private individual, or group of people without referring specifically to racial, religious, sexual orientation—all the groups guaranteed by our democratic constitutions—would be out. Personal attacks would be out if any identifiers were included in the comment. Without identifiers, the content is about a type of individual, and not a specific individual.

In the interest of freedom of speech, all referenced attacks on Public Individuals and their behaviour would be allowed. Unsupported attacks would not be. This is very important—and correct, as far as I’m concerned—in places like the UK where the libel and slander laws are more strict than in the U.S. Not only is it a responsible policy, the finacial health and reputation of the paper depends upon it.

Then anything off-topic. That is a finer line, but not so difficult to determine.

And this may sound really hypocritical coming from me, but the use of profanity would be a flag for attention. I believe these words, when used sparsely for emphasis along with an advanced vocabulary, enhance certain types of writing styles, but can also purposely incur anger. Flame Bait. That’s a razor’s edge and the determination of what is and is not flame bait can be quite subjective.

I would probably take a lot of heat for editing out some profane comments and leaving others. It would make my job a lot easier if I eliminated the use of profanity altogether. I would resist that.

LornaLove's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus love your answer. I really thought that hate speech was illegal here, apparently not! As a female reading those types of comments, it is stomach churning. It seems here in the UK fat shaming, disability shaming etc., is all okay.

I can’t even imagine doing that, what would I say ‘Oh you legless amputee you!’ the mind boggles really. I feel the world has gone backwards.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Thank you, Ms. Love.

I made a mistake up there.

” Generalized attacks on a certain type of private individual, or group of people that did not refer to racial, religious, sexual orientation—all the groups guaranteed by our democratic constitutions—would be out.

No. Those would be left in.

Specific attacks on private individuals, or groups of people referring specifically to racial, religious, sexual orientation—and all the groups guaranteed by our democratic constitutions—would be edited out.

My thoughts sometimes get lost while writing compound sentences.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther