Oh the irony! Al Jazeera, purveyors of some of the worst vitriol, bigotry, racism and sectarianism – especially when it comes to its efforts to vilify Israel – has decided to disable comments on its site. Because of “vitriol, bigotry, racism and sectarianism.”
Bonus irony: they have been complaining about silencing freedom of expression recently too.
Today, we disabled the ability to comment on stories on aljazeera.com. It’s a decision that we’ve given much thought to, and one that we feel ultimately best serves our audience.
The mission of Al Jazeera is to give a voice to the voiceless, and healthy discussion is an active part of this. When we first opened up comments on our website, we hoped that it would serve as a forum for thoughtful and intelligent debate that would allow our global audience to engage with each other.
However, the comments section was hijacked by users hiding behind pseudonyms spewing vitriol, bigotry, racism and sectarianism. The possibility of having any form of debate was virtually non-existent.
Also, over time, we found social media to be the preferred platform for our audience to debate the issues that matter the most to them. We encourage our audience to continue to interact with us this way.
This decision also comes at a time when we as a publisher need to evaluate what our priorities are. We feel that rather than approaching the problem with a collection of algorithms and an army of moderators, our engineering and editorial resources are better utilised building new storytelling formats that resonate with our audience.
But don’t worry. We still have a way to let them know how awful they are.
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