Technology

Unpleasant, in front of and behind the screen.

Every day, you come across derogatory messages while browsing the news channels on your social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. However, these Internet users who are aggressive, scathing, even mean during online exchanges, are also hostile in person.

This is argued by Alexander Bor and Michael Bang Petersen, two researchers at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, who have tried to understand why some people throw their cheek into digital spaces during political exchanges.

“Bitter political discussions are the work of individuals motivated by their social status, attracted to politics, and as hostile online as they are offline,” they write in their proceedings.

Politics: a hot topic

To reach this conclusion, the Danish researchers carried out eight studies in which they conducted surveys and behavioral analyzes on about 8,400 people. They started from the popular belief that people behind a computer are more inclined to write incisors, especially due to the anonymity of virtual space and physical distance. “Human psychology is suitable for face-to-face interactions,” they argued. However, it is not.

Internet users do not have tantrums when surfing the Internet and they do not turn into trolls when they sit in front of their computer. It’s in their personalities to be so obnoxious, researchers say. As for the nice ones, they tend to avoid these political discussions, whether they get out of hand or not.

It should be noted that politics is one of the most hateful topics on the Internet, the survey notes. No fewer than 14% of American Internet users have been harassed for their political views, a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center reported.

Biased perceptions?

The researchers also questioned the possibility that perceptions could be biased online. If digital spaces do not seem to be a fertile ground for constructive discussions, it is because the writings of hostile Internet users are gaining more attention, according to them.

“In the big social networks, the actions of these people are very visible, especially in relation to private exchanges”, indicates the study of the University of Aarhus.

Solutions

To counter online hate, Danish researchers point to the possibility of reducing the visibility of malicious Internet users and even taking legal action against them. “Of course, a balance needs to be struck between these measures and freedom of expression,” they say.

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault launched a public consultation in July on the possibility of regulating “online communication services”, namely Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Pornhub. Fitness apps and websites that collect traveler reviews would be excluded, as would private exchanges.

Under the minister’s proposal, the giants would be forced to remove illegal content, such as hate speech and incitement to violence, within 24 hours, and immediately alert the authorities, otherwise they would face severe fines, which could amount to $ 10 million or 3% of your turnover.

This public consultation ends on September 25. It remains to be seen whether the Liberal Party of Canada will return to power on September 20 and, if so, whether it will have room to push for such legislative changes.

>> Read also: How to filter unwanted content on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and cyberbullying: 5 tips to prevent your teenager from being a victim of it

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