To make things move forward, Facebook is backing away.
Facebook announced Thursday night that it would reorganize its news feed, all with the goal of getting users to see more “meaningful” content from their friends and their family and stimulate commitment.
What does Facebook consider to be a commitment around meaningful content? Well, these are comments, especially long ones. This is a big bet designed to change what people see, do and feel when they are on Facebook.
The only thing to say is that the culture of the comments on the Internet is perhaps already dead.
Do not tell Zuck, who puts the kibosh on publishers’ posts.
Or, as The New York Times put it, “passive content”:
The changes are aimed at maximizing the amount of content with a “meaningful interaction” that people consume on Facebook, said Mark Zuckerberg, the general manager of the company, in an interview. Facebook, he said, has looked closely at the types of positions that have stressed or harmed users. The social network wants to reduce what Mr. Zuckerberg called “passive content” – videos and articles that require the viewer a little more than sitting and watching or reading – so that users’ time on the site be well spent.
Comments are an internet relic. Think about the last time you took the time to write a comment on something. Have you encountered thoughtful, polite and insightful comments? Were you challenged intellectually? Was it the beginning of a critical discussion that expanded your worldview? Did it make you wake up?
Chances are slim – and if you said yes, you’re probably lying.
Unfiltered comments have become a dark and problematic underbelly of the Internet. And websites, especially in the media world, have more often than not chosen to go through them. Twitter, in many ways, has publicly treated with a similar achievement for years, and its public account has not been pretty.
But you do not need to think too far on the Internet, where comments were a measure of currency. The Internet has been built on comments, from early internet discussion groups to hyper-niche forums to the true sincerity of people asking Yahoo! users about the right way to take care of a pet potato .
For publishers, comments have become a measure of relevance. The stories that sparked discussions were advanced, promoted and redistributed. Gawker’s founder, Nick Denton, was one of the greatest believers in this field. He invested millions in the construction of a comment-oriented blogging system titled Kinja stating that the publication should be a collaboration between writers and readers.
“Why would not you want to harness the opinions and expertise of your readership unless you are embarrassed by them,” he told Fortune.
It’s about the time Denton really pushed Kinja that the comments on the Internet seemed to be reaching their peak. The “most commented” sections of the multimedia sites have become “trend” pages. The phrase “do not read the comments” has gone from ironic advice to a way of life on the Internet. The Trolls had won, at least as far as the comment sections were concerned.
This certainly could not put an end to the bad comments on the Internet that are always polite, thoughtful, empathic and respectful intellectual discourses. https://t.co/7VVhkRrfq7
– Adam Singer (@AdamSinger) January 12, 2018
In 2010, comment sections disappeared on the Internet . Now you would have a hard time finding a comment section on the web that is not moderated by humans . Facebook, in fact, is one of the few places on the Internet where unmoderated comments still exist.
All of this amounts to saying that the return of Facebook in this way of thinking seems, to say the least, obsolete. And that doubles. Just listen to Zuck :
For example, there are many communities bonded around television shows and sports teams. We’ve seen people interact a lot more with live videos than regular videos. Some news helps to start conversations about important issues. But too often today, watching a video, reading news or getting a page update is only a passive experience.
There are places on the web where comments are flourishing – the biggest, of course, being Reddit. But he has human moderators, those who choose to do it without pay. The down vote system also gives users the power to send more relevant and / or useful content to the top.
Reddit also had his struggles. Even with its roots in the Internet anarchy, the company has cracked down on hate speech and how users of certain subreddits can comment outside their home territory.
Facebook, in many ways, is trying to be Reddit, a place where engagement leads to “meaningful content” to as many eyes as possible. The ultimate goal here is to help communities flourish. Facebook’s return on Groups in July aimed to push users sharing common interests. And the last change to News Feed is to do the same thing.
But, in the Internet today, comments are not the answer.
It would be so it was 2009.