There’s a guest column/op-ed in Adweek about how the comments sections of Facebook posts about major studio releases stink. Specifically, about how they’re filled with links to illegal pirate streams, many of which are bogus in and of themselves are are just destinations for malware, phishing scams and the like.
The story talks a bit about how Facebook and other parties are trying to fix the problem through automated tools that find crappy comments and deletes them or bans the offensive accounts, which is the equivalent of playing whack-a-mole, or itching chicken pox sores: You don’t solve anything and in some cases you actually make the problem worse.
No amount of tools will be 100% effective here. Instead the solution is a combination of automation and human services. There are dedicated moderation agencies that are devoted to keeping comments on Facebook pages in check and even operating at peak efficiency there’s no guarantee they’ll get everything.
So what can be done? Well first off, let’s stipulate that comments, in general, stink. That’s true just about everywhere, particularly on Facebook and YouTube, where the lowest common denominator come out of the woodwork to chime in with poorly spelled diatribes. It’s true in the media, where a recent study showed harassment of women and people of color is *much* worse than it is for white men.
There are some sites and services that are doing interesting things with trying to address the general problem with comments – Medium comes to mind immediately – but there’s no single solution at this time. I don’t think anyone would argue against the need for one, though. It’s just a matter of finding the right technology, or the right mix of technology with human assistance and oversight. You want to restrict the bad without overly suppressing the good, which is usually the problem with automated tools.
Until such time as this is solved, studios and other brand publishers would be wise to not go all-in on a single solution but work on a hybrid approach. Until Facebook gives publishers the same ability to restrict comments in some way that they have on their sites – not bloody likely, I’ll admit – they’ll have to find a solution that allows for legitimate conversation while at the same time keeping the spammers and trolls off their rented property.