Facebook Comments Nicer Than Newspapers: Should Commenter Anonymity Be Outlawed? [Study]

Facebook comments are apparently a better tool for civility than newspaper website comments, according to a new report from Professor Ian Rowe of London’s University of Kent.

Rowe examined comments from both Facebook and news sites, comparing what readers said about the same stories when messaging on different platforms. He found that, while conflict was still present on social media, the Facebook comments were considerably more civil than on the news sites themselves where anonymity is often allowed.

“Although the Washington Post requires readers to register in order to comment, it does not require them to do so using their real name,” Rowe’s report explained. “Although asking readers to register is a tactic designed to increase the sense of accountability that commenters feel, and commenters are asked to refrain from posting ‘inappropriate’ remarks, the Washington Post comment section provides readers a high level of anonymity, and a low level of accountability.”

The Inquisitr uses a Facebook integration platform, and we’re not too sure if we agree with Rowe, because a lot of you folks can get pretty rowdy.

Nevertheless, one traipse through the Yahoo! or Washington Post or Huffington Post comments sections proves that liberals and conservatives can pretty much act like idiots when they know there’s no chance the person on the other end of the conversation will reach across the web and slap them.

TechCrunch noted that the LA Times switched over to Facebook comments, and noticed the level of discourse dramatically improved, quoting Jimmy Orr, the Times online managing editor as saying, “Trolls don’t like their friends to know that they’re trolls.”

TechCrunch also pointed out that a number of websites are reconsidering the anonymity allowance with PopScience cutting out comments altogether, TC itself switching to Livefyre and YouTube weighing a possible switch to Google+ for comments.

Do you think Facebook comments and other forms of accountability are necessary, or should people be allowed to say whatever they want online?

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