There was a time when comments sections were seen as the next step in a golden age of democratised communication
The internet was born open but is becoming closed everywhere. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the rush to shutter readers’ comments sections at major news organisations. Cheered on by intolerant, snobbish cultural elites, news organisations from The Verge to The Daily Beast have, in recent months, informed their readers to take their opinions elsewhere.
Dozens of progressive blogs and news outlets are following suit, citing “abuse” and “harassment” as the primary reasons they no longer want to hear the opinions of their readers. But that’s not what is really going on.
There was a time when comments sections were seen as the next step in a golden age of democratised communication, particularly by the political Left. “For the first time ever, we are thinking aloud, unfiltered by mass media gatekeepers,” wrote a former Hillary Clinton advisor in 2008. “Never before has the global discourse been so accessible, recursive, and durable.”