September 26, 2013
Suzanne LeBarre, online editor for Popular Science, announced to web users of their news site are shutting off their comments option because it “can be bad for science.”
LaBarre maintains: “As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter.”
Popular Science is concerned about attracting “vexing commenters” who are “shrill, boorish specimens of the lower internet phyla.”
The “fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story” and this is not good for scientific dispensation.
This is the exact definition of a “troll” according to the MSM.
LaBarre cites a study entitled, “The ‘Nasty Effect’: Online Incivility and Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies” which expounds that “uncivil discourse is a growing concern in American rhetoric, and this trend has expanded beyond traditional media to online sources, such as audience comments.”
With data collected from 1,183 participants that led to the assertion that those exposed to “rude comments ended up with a much more polarized understanding” of the subject matter of the article.
Essentially, the comments influenced the reader’s perspective, comprehension and opinion about the information they received from the article more than the article itself.
Mainstream media’s reaction to this is to point out that “online comments have always been — and probably always will be — one of the Web’s thorniest problems. At their best, comments add depth to stories, videos or other pieces of online content. At their worst, they undermine stories, link people to scams, make you question the state of humanity or, well, just want to take a shower.”
One focus is that commenters be held accountable for their comment by forcing the user to identify themselves – and not be able to use an alias. By tracking users, Google has become a perfect example of this.
The idea that comments are “bad for online journalism” is being implanted into the social consciousness with other MSM articles.
Just recently, researchers at Beihang University analyzed 70 million “tweets” from the Chinese social networking site called Weibo.
In the study entitled, “Anger is More Influential than Joy: Sentiment Correlation in Weibo” showed that one angry poster could cause a flood of angry posts.
Researchers mapped the “tweets” and placed them into categories according to emoticons: anger, joy, sadness and disgust.
According to the study: “Our results show that anger is more influential than other emotions like joy, which indicates that the angry tweets can spread quickly and broadly in the network. While out of our expectation, the correlation of sadness is low.”
It is assumed that this study would be reflective of the Weibo community, which is made up of citizens of China and therefore reflective of their culture and not indicative of other similar sites, such as Twitter.
The psychology behind this concept states that one person can influence the masses’ behavior, strong dependence on social media is liken to the same phenomenon to those observed on real life.
Like an infectious disease, a social meme can shift the general public’s consciousness and thereby causing societal constructs to change as well.
In concert with this study, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) issued a statement regarding their new policy on punishing online bloggers and deterring new ones from replacing them on the internet.
A provision in the new Chinese Criminal Law outlines:
• The “new left” using propaganda attacks online
• Blames ant-Chinese ideology on the web
• US propaganda about China influencing citizens
Article 246 of China’s Criminal Law defines criminal defamation to discourage the spread of online rumors and information not government sanctioned.
In effect, this definition will criminalize any “information networks…that use electronic equipment” to cause “public chaos” or “seriously [endanger] social order or the national interests.”
It is also explained in Article 246 that any citizen that “publicly humiliates another person or invents stories to defame him, if the circumstances are serious” could be held for up to 3 years in a government prison.
The time allotted to the accused could be extended if “serious harm is done to public order or to the interests of the State.”
Should the Chinese government deem a post a danger to “the social order and national interest”, the authorities can seize the user and imprison him/her.
An online post that is considered a possible instigator in “a mass incident”, “public chaos”, “ethnic or religious conflicts”, “defamation of multiple persons that creates a repugnant social impact[or] harms the national image, seriously endangering national interests,” or “creates a repugnant national impact” and “other situations” could also be applied to television images, land-line phones and cellular devices.
A “legal weapon” as defined by the Article 246 explains that persons who engage in “intentional fabrication and online dissemination of false information” that causes the “upset of social order” will be found and prosecuted.
If that individual is found to be “organizing or inciting others to disseminate [false information] on information networks, creating a punishable uproar or causing public chaos” they will be sent to prison.