Social Media Marketing

Improving Civil Discourse on Social Media

The internet that we know and love today presents a unique opportunity for users to engage in political discourse and discussion on public affairs.

The internet that we know and love today presents a unique opportunity for users to engage in political discourse and discussion on public affairs through online forums, blogs, comment sections, and social networking sites. Studies have found that online deliberation can lead to increased knowledge about important issues and increase political participation. Online conversations have also been shown to increase knowledge and help shift opinions that are equal or above face-to-face deliberations.  

Perhaps because of their ability to infuse knowledge and spark discussion, sites such as Reddit or Twitter have become popular online. Reddit allows users to post thoughts, videos, images, or rants almost freely, and other users can reply or vote on a post depending on whether they agree or disagree. Reddit is like an online debate form much of the time and has many knowledgeable users who share their opinions and expertise with others.

Another site that is popular for debate is Quora. This site consists of user-generated questions, ranging from homework to relationships, and other users can post responses that share information, answer questions, or help increase awareness.

The Real Problem With Civil Discourse Online

The issue with these online forums is that they sometimes become catalysts of hatred and anger. Tempers can quickly flare when discussing sensitive subjects, and unlike a formal, in-person debate, there is no one to moderate in real-time. While site mods are usually reasonable and stay on top of offensive posts, there are many instances where hurtful comments make it through and get posted online.

Some have proposed that social media implement a profanity ban or force thoughtful, civil discourse through other means.

What if social media became a haven of well-cited information in which the original source was credited, and the conversation was always politically correct? Would this make social media more appealing, or would it destroy the very fabric that makes this outlet popular in the first place?  

People turn to social media because of its allowances for freedom of speech and its vast audiences. It is rare that someone posts to a blog or writes a comment hoping that one thoughtful person will read it. Instead, they seek fame in the depths of the World Wide Web. Users of social media sites want to be heard by the world. They want their posts to be liked and shared on a global level.

Today, consumption is timely. The internet adapts and changes rapidly, and before you know it, the ‘next big thing’ has hit hard. In a world that is constantly moving on to the next post or racing to get the first comment, where does civil discourse come in?

We have already seen what happens when sites try to police user posts. The people of the internet are resourceful, and they always find ways around these bans. Roblox, a site created for children to talk and play games, has stringent guidelines about profanity and the sharing of personal information. Yet, these users, who are as young as three years old, find ways around the asterisk-riddled blocking systems and still manage to talk about taboo things. Images and videos also pose unique challenges to this idea. If you want to create a clean internet, will you hire people to police each and every post?

Can Civil Discourse Be Achieved Online?

These thoughts and many others show how civil discourse online is a complex and precarious issue that lacks a solid, one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, civil discourse online needs to be your responsibility. You need to choose to make the internet a better place and then take action to accomplish that goal. Policing posts online would be a full-time job that would employ millions, and it is simply not a logical business model. It would also push users to other, less regulated sites in their search for validation.   

While the internet may be ‘full of filth,’ users seem to want that filth to make them feel alive and connected.

Civil discourse is out there. It is simply a matter of where you look. As some might say, ‘If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” 


How the Pinterest Algorithm Works in 2021

Back to Social Media Marketing

5 Bewitching Social Media Strategies for Brand Growth