19 Comments

  1. Jesse

    Hopefully the API is not based on input from the likes of Politifact, Snopes, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, CNN, etc…

    At the end of the day, an API is just code, written by biased humans, which is what Facebook’s “fake news” controversy reminded us of after the recent U.S. presidential election.

    Like Sarah’s “Why Comments Still Matter” post in 2014 addressed, sites like CNN.com or Popular Science really just disabled comments because they were tired of being called out on their facts (one of the best blog post’s I’ve seen on the topic, btw).

    TL;DR: I doubt this API changes anything, unless it’s just another filter against foul language, or is somehow configurable.

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    • Armin

      Strange that your list is missing Breitbart, Fox News, InfoWars and the like. I wonder why that could be?

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    • Isabel

      Fox News and CNN are exactly the same because both are political party propaganda. Doesn’t matter which side, same goal: keep Americans divided. Anyone still watching TV news should find an independent news source online rather than fill your head with propaganda.

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  2. Chuck

    Readers don’t always have the emotional energy to deal with rude comments

    Sigh. No different than TV shows or movies…if you don’t like it then change the channel. But thanks NY Times and Google for the continued efforts at mind control with the pretense of helping the vulnerable among us…

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  3. John

    Let me make a wild guess here – conservative political opinions will be branded as ‘toxic’.

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  4. Danny Brown

    This sounds like an interesting project, Sarah. Given the Washington Post has partnered with Mozilla and The New York Times are funding a $4 million project to bring easier comments and photos to news sites, it’s clear publishers still see the value of comments.

    Among many of the things I wrote about in a recent post on the value of comments was the fact that as well as keeping discussions open from both sides of a perspective, comments can also greatly help revenue and ROI (there’s a study that showed commenters are 5x more likely to buy than regular subscribers, for example).

    If tech giants like Google, and publishing giants like TWP and NYT can bring open yet respectful commenting as standard, the web might just become fun again (and profitable for publishers).

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  5. Jason Lemieux

    This is a hard nut to crack and i’m glad to see Google putting some weight behind it. I’m especially keen that it is an open api so we in the WordPress world can leverage it.

    There is another player in this space that already has a WordPress plugin available: Sift Ninja. They just came out of beta and while new to the WordPress scene, they come to it after years of experience and data collection doing work for Twitch, X-box, etc. I’ve toyed with it enough to get behind it as the best solution there is for now.

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  6. Miroslav Glavic

    conservative political opinions will be branded as ‘toxic’.

    Yes.

    Did you know that “Conservative” can be different in each country?

    Liberals in Australia would be considered Conservatives in Canada.
    Liberals in US would be considered NDP in Canada? (In Canada: NDP is left of Centre, Liberals are Centrist and Conservatives are right of Centre).

    Facebook filtered/censored many Conservative content during the US election. well known fact.

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  7. Jeffrey

    Interesting. The project is called “Perspective”, so I wonder what perspective the project will take when learning and filtering “toxic” comments?

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  8. Luke Cavanagh

    Some of those issues where why the IMDB boards closed down.

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  9. Justin Tadlock

    This type of technology can be extremely useful for moderating/filtering people who are just being trolls or it can be extremely dangerous to the freedom of expression.

    My biggest fear is the growing idea that people have a right not to be offended, which will continually invade technological advances. Freedom of expression is useless if no one is offended and everyone agrees on everything.

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  10. Tomas M.

    Two recent stories stand out in my memory:

    Facebook Apologizes for Censoring Christian Mom

    “Facebook finally apologized and reinstated Johnson’s account after coming under heavy fire by the media.” – that’s what Mr. Bean was talking about… those “lucky” cases where publicity helped draw the attention…. what about those other not so lucky cases?

    Or: Google blacklists Natural News site.

    I hope those BIG guys will not abuse the tools they are creating.

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