Killing the Comments: Why Do News Organizations Remove User Commentary Functions?

Maria N. Nelson, Thomas B. Ksiazek, Nina Springer
2021 Journalism and Media  
User commentary in digital journalism is commonly understood as a form of public user engagement and participation, a stance that reframes news organizations' role as discussion curators as necessarily consequential. Yet, in recent years many news organizations have limited, or abandoned altogether, their commentary functions. This paper examines statements and policies published by such news organizations. Based on a thematic analysis of 20 comment removal statements, we found that the most
more » ... mon rationale for this shift was an effort to reduce incivility and misinformation among user comments. The statements analyzed also indicate that organizations are moving to outsource commentary to social media platforms. Tapping into normative discourses of (avoiding) uncivil, conspiracy-prone commentary seems to be an acceptable rationale for abandoning infrastructures established for public discussions or to move these to social media; yet, we found no reflection whatsoever about the additional power afforded to social media companies through such a shift.
doi:10.3390/journalmedia2040034 fatcat:uozwyefxcbb75gynahka2nbgzm