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Disrupt Hate! News organizations : Disable commenting on Facebook & Instagram

This petition had 450 supporters

Technology serves so many great purposes. But with social media and website commenting, we've seen the rise of the cyber bully and the Internet troll.

In the wrong hands, social media has fed the very worst parts of modern-day society. It has contributed to the rapid spread of organizations like ISIS, as well as created an epidemic of misinformation. However, this is not a call to disband social media altogether; it serves many worthwhile purposes.

I know I'm not alone in wishing we could strengthen our society, as it seems pretty badly beaten up by escalating violence and disunity. Seeing at least 15 slaughtered UN peacekeepers in the Congo belittled on a Washington Post Facebook post... I hit my breaking point. Not because I think the guy who said, "why waste time trying to being peace to these animals We need to get out of every country we trying to save and just let them all kill themselves. They dont want us there to begin with.. [sic across the board here]," shouldn't have equal right to share his voice, but because the news media and guys like Zuckerberg have gotten really good at both recognizing yet sidelining this problem. 

I'm asking news outlets and Mark Zuckerberg to take one simple step to address the negative impact that news on social media has caused. 

This petition is a call to disable news story comments - not all reactions or interactions, just comments. I'm not calling for censorship; I'm simply asking news organizations to do on Facebook & Instagram what they are already doing on their websites: Switch off comments. 

Media outlets have had comments disabled on their websites for years, closing the door to exposure and risk. Why should their Facebook and Instagram pages be any different?

BUT: I'm a marketing professional, so I have a suspicion that news outlets are trying to defeat the Facebook & Instagram algorithms and of course compete with each other. If encouraging commenting on these platforms gets their stories shared more widely, then they have no reason to turn off commenting.

So perhaps Zuckerberg could tweak the formula for news pages: Add more weight to the emoji and share reactions so news organizations don't lose out on exposure - but they'll also have to level the playing field, applying the change to all pages in the category. Commenting still exists for the private user - and they can irritate or inform their friends the same way they already do by sharing the post - but on the news outlet's page itself... is it even necessary? 

As a marketing professional, I'm aware of some of the more manipulative tactics practiced on unsuspecting social media users. The "virtual world" has had significant impact on weak-willed or less informed individuals. It's the responsibility of news media and social media outlets to recognize their role as contributors to the tone, rather than prioritizing voyeuristic data gathering and social experimentation.

For those inclined to hate and to incite hate in others, social media has been wildly successful. This is not news. Abusive sentiments and escalating arguments between people who, heretofore, would've had no reason to communicate, are contributing to an environment steeped in agitation, tension, and anxiety.

My sincere hope is that with this simple adjustment, we might somehow recover a bit of our lost unity and, once again, that social media will facilitate connections rather than stir discord. 

Please share online with hashtag #disrupthate

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Sarah Williams needs your help with “Media outlets have disabled comments on their websites. Why should their Facebook and Instagram pages be different? #disrupthate”. Join Sarah and 449 supporters today.