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EDITORIAL: When hate shows in comments

Disturbing ideologies can flourish, in part because their messages can spread in online environments

Online comments posted on several recent news stories have brought out the worst in some of our readers.

Over the past few days, our moderators were left with no choice but to delete some of the comments on our sites and our Facebook pages because of racist and homophobic content.

Other online dialogues were becoming extremely heated, with some commenters exchanging barbs and personal insults rather than discussing the issue.

We have a responsibility to moderate the content on our sites and social media pages. This includes comments posted by readers.

While the recent hate-filled comments were deeply disturbing, they were hardly surprising.

While some social media platforms have been taking measures to address the rise of hate speech online, it is a growing problem.

READ ALSO: ‘Valuable life lesson’: Woman arrested for anti-Indigenous comments apologizes

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Safer Internet Day focuses on respectful communication

Some extremely disturbing ideologies can flourish, in part because their messages can spread in online environments. When hate speech goes unchecked, supremacist groups can gain a foothold.

The rise of online hate is happening at the same time as online commenting is taking on an increasingly angry tone. Too often, dialogue and tones that would be unthinkable in face-to-face conversations are becoming commonplace in online settings.

We have a responsibility to block or delete hateful comments, including racism, homophobia and character attacks.

The decision to hide or delete a comment is not one we make lightly.

We value free speech and we encourage our readers to comment on the stories they read in the paper and online — as long as the views address an issue and do not become inflammatory statements about individuals or specific groups.

Some topics, including the recent rail blockades and the spread of coronavirus, will elicit some strong opinions. Others will have strong views on decisions made by local, provincial or federal governments.

That’s fine. Your opinions are welcome as online comments or letters to the editor.

However, hate and intolerance cannot and will not be tolerated.

— Black Press

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