The Distorting Prism of Social Media 

    How Self-Selection and Exposure to Incivility Fuel Online Comment Toxicity

    By Jin Woo Kim (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania); Andrew Guess (Dept. of Politics, Princeton University); Brendan Nyhan (Dept. of Government, Dartmouth College); Jason Reifler, (Dept. of Politics, University of Exeter)

    Abstract: Though prior studies have analyzed the textual characteristics of online comments about politics, less is known about how selection into commenting behavior and exposure to other people’s comments changes the tone and content of political discourse. This article makes three contributions. First, we show that frequent commenters on Facebook are more likely to be interested in politics, to have more polarized opinions, and to use toxic language in comments in an elicitation task. Second, we find that people who comment on articles in the real world use more toxic language on average than the public as a whole; levels of toxicity in comments scraped from media outlet Facebook pages greatly exceed what is observed in comments we elicit on the same articles from a nationally representative sample. Finally, we demonstrate experimentally that exposure to toxic language in comments increases the toxicity of subsequent comments.


    Funniest part of this tweet is that in the comments selected to assess toxicity they used "your antifa." Honestly I don't know if that was picked as an accurate spelling of a comment or if the people doing the study are also that stupid and didn't know the correct usage of your and you're.

    Nate Silver on same:

    Ok, after all that high faluting talk, here's the problem, though--it's wanting to hang with people that know how to be SOCIAL:

    I cannot emphasize enough how life-changing it is to just fully and unapologetically embrace the block and mute buttons on this thing.

    Some ppl sign onto Twitter to share jokes and figure out interesting stuff together. Others are broken ppl and rage-mongers. Just block em!

    — Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) November 30, 2020

    It’s not even rude. It’s just a matter of pruning your online social life the exact same way that everybody naturally treats their offline networks.

    — Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) November 30, 2020

    maybe the answer for those who do not like "bubbles" of dittoheading


    It's also worth having an appeals process for the odd false positive though.

    — Antonio García Martínez (@antoniogm) November 30, 2020

    for sure. that appeals process tends to elicit kindness and good faith! i make a point to accept 100% of the un-block requests i receive.

    — Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) November 30, 2020

    some address the echo chamber thing in comments later on the thread--there's no need to blame the software, grownups can chose not to have one

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