The real cause of the hostile discourse on social media / the digital information world

For the most part, looking at social media will tell you that the vast majority of people aren’t really keen on having any kind of civil discussion. It seems that the advent of social media has served to deepen cultural and ideological divides rather than narrowing them, and this is mostly attributed to individuals behaving badly online and this is actually a pretty valid reason for which such something could happen on a regular basis.

However, it’s important to note that there could be another reason why online discourse tends to be so hostile and partisan, and it might have something to do with how social media platforms tend to be. to be designed in the first place. . A recent study conducted by residents of The conversation involved a survey of around 257 social media users, and the features they believed helped or hindered their ability to argue effectively online.

While the results of this research should be taken with caution since the researchers received funding from Facebook, the results are nonetheless quite intriguing as they tend to involve social media design a lot more than before. We will be looking at the search results for three major platforms namely Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube.

Starting with Facebook, respondents who took part in an argument on the platform felt that due to their argument being fully displayed and having an audience of their Facebook friends and connections, they felt rather limited. regarding the things they might actually end up saying. Additionally, the way the comments are organized and summarized in the initial view turned out to be a bit of a problem as it prevented people who started engaging in the debate from getting the most comprehensive information possible about the issue. subject under discussion.

This contrasts with the kind of experience people have had on WhatsApp with similar behavioral phenomena. Unlike Facebook, WhatsApp is simply a private messaging service, meaning people who wanted to debate could talk about their true beliefs without having to feel judged by a large number of people. 76% of respondents said they had quarreled on WhatsApp in the past and this was the highest percentage seen for any social media platform respondents were asked about.

When it comes to YouTube, however, only around 6% of respondents said they took part in an argument over the video streaming platform. While YouTube’s comment moderation policies were a bit mixed, for the most part the large number of comments meant that users could express themselves freely and the chances were pretty low that someone or the other would see their comments. comments let alone start an argument over them.

This shows that the way social media platforms are designed has a huge impact on the freedom with which someone or the other can express their point of view on them.

Read more: From the industrial age to the technological age, changes and the innovation cycle (infographic)


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