News outlet Independent Online (IOL) on Thursday faced social media consternation after a decision to close comments on stories on its website.
This mirrors a move by News24, which closed comments on its site six weeks ago.
In a column posted on Thursday morning, IOL managing editor Adrian Ephraim said it was a “difficult” decision, adding “we arrived at it after careful consideration of all the factors at play”.
“If you are prone to being racist or sexist in your thinking, by all means express yourself on other platforms that may find such behaviour acceptable, but not on IOL. We are of the view that instances of abuse in our comments section have become untenable,” he wrote.
Independent Media has been the forerunner in addressing the issue, Ephraim said.
“In arriving at our decision, we concluded we’d rather devote resources to doing better journalism than recruiting more people to fend off the trolls who lurk in the alleys of the comment section, offering zero value to the conversation,” he said.
He came under fire from the alleys of Twitter:
@craig_aaron wrote: “Comments should be moderated not removed. Public opinions are more valuable than the article itself. #IOLcomment”
@warrenwilson said: ” @IOL #IOLComments goodbye IOL, Hello other online news”
@Dudesky01 tweeted: “#IOLComments Took IOL a long time to close it after News24 closed their comments section. Well done Adrian Ephraim, nice tan btw.
Facebook users held a similar tenor for Ephraim:
Robin Grant van den Heever said: “No worries. There are still 10000 other news services that do. If you want to take away our ability to have conversations about your articles – well, so be it. Watch those readership numbers plummet.”
Reader James Herbert Coackley asked: “Are you now controlled by the [African National Congress] and Guptas like the other network?”
Jeff Wicks, News24
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