In order to fight the rise of fake news and hate speech, accredited news sites have made a series of changes to their comment sections, and in many cases have removed them all together. Sites have been forced to make these bold changes in the wake of alt right trolls and Russian bot farms swamping their comment sections with comments questioning and undermining important progressive narratives, many of them cleverly dressing their bigotry in facts, evidence and statistics. This simply could not be tolerated, and editors took swift and decisive action against these disrupters, allowing progressive authors to continue their groundbreaking journalism without being challenged or criticized by ignorant dissenters.
Take for example the Guardian, which has banned comments altogether for contentious articles, and implemented a series of modifications to the comments sections on other articles. Where comments are allowed, they are hidden by default and a few carefully selected positive comments are shown at the top, called the “Guardian pick”, ALL of which agree with the article. The Guardian does not use ratings to judge which comments appear in the Guardian pick – instead they employ a range of subjective measures at the discretion of their accredited editors. Finally, those persistent enough to find the actual comment section will see that many comments have been removed by moderators for violating the Guardian’s strict community guidelines.
Unfortunately much remains to be done, as the highest rated remaining comments are often the most critical of the article, and it’s hard to tell whether these people seriously question sensible progressive narratives, or are simply working for Putin or an underground alt right troll army. In addition, sites like Amazon have their own problem with ratings, where books like Hillary’s “Stronger Together” receive overwhelmingly negative ratings and Trump’s books receive overwhelmingly positive ratings. Jeff Bezos has tried to solve this problem by eliminating existing ratings, only to see the negative ratings reappear.
In my opinion, ratings, reviews, comments and any form of consumer feedback needs to be removed from accredited sites in order to prevent right wing saboteurs from undermining our messages and narratives. Criticizing progressives who only want peace, tolerance and diversity is tantamount to hate speech, and has no place in a forward thinking, liberal democracy.