Huffington Post will end anonymous comments


Trolls are just getting more and more aggressive and uglier, and I just came from London, where there are threats of rape and death threats,” Barb Darrow reports Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington said at a conference in Boston. Huffington said the site would rescind anonymity in September: “I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and not hiding behind anonymity."

In an email to Poynter, Huffington Post spokesperson Rhoades Alderson confirms the move and says HuffPost's army of moderators -- it has about 40 -- "will be freed up to engage more with the community, facilitating the kinds of productive conversations our community members want to be having."

Jeff Sonderman wrote last fall about how The Huffington Post handles comments: Justin Isaf, then the organization's community director, told him he and the site's moderators "work really hard to keep the community safe and enjoyable by investing significant time and energy into pre-moderation to keep...bad actors out." The Huffington Post receives 25,000 comments each hour, Sonderman wrote.

Some news organizations have said they've seen an improvement in comment quality by using Facebook, which requires real names. But Gawker Media honcho Nick Denton wrote a stirring defense of anonymity last year, saying that deputizing commenters would effectively mute trolls.

Related: How the News Got Less Mean (Time) | How to handle personal attacks on social media (Poynter)

Previously: Anonymous comments can be ‘a frothing, bubbling cauldron of insanity’ | Anonymous comments not the problem, ignoring the conversation is | embraces its anonymous commenters

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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