• Tue. May 28th, 2024

Humanity is the root cause of toxic networks

Byeditor

Mar 26, 2024

The public debate on social networks can be exhausting, especially when discussions become heated. But are the platforms and their algorithms responsible for the toxic environment that is developing on them? A recent study published in Nature delves into this issue, isolating various behaviors to better understand where online toxicity originates. The study analyzed over 500 million threads, messages, and conversations in English on eight platforms over 34 years, including Facebook, Reddit, Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The study’s results indicate that toxicity is not a consequence of the networks themselves, but rather something more deeply rooted in human behavior. Professor Walter Quattrociocchi from Sapienza University, along with other academics from his university and the City University and the Alain Turing Institute in London, suggests that despite changes in networks and social norms over time, certain human behaviors, including toxicity, persist in online discussions, regardless of the platform.

Furthermore, the study found that, contrary to popular belief, toxicity does not necessarily diminish the appeal of a platform. User behavior in toxic and non-toxic conversations showed similar patterns in terms of participation, suggesting that the presence of toxicity may not deter participation as commonly assumed. While human behavior is linked to a certain level of toxicity on networks, it does not mean that all online interactions are destined to be toxic, or that efforts to mitigate toxic behavior are ineffective.

On the contrary, the findings could help inform strategies to moderate content on social platforms in order to reduce the prevalence of toxic behavior in the online world. This research sheds light on the behaviors that contribute to online toxicity, providing valuable insights for improving the online discourse and environment on social networks.

By editor

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