Uncovering the Roots of Online Toxicity: A Study on Human Behavior and Social Norms

Humanity is the root cause of toxic networks

A recent study published in Nature delves into the issue of online toxicity and its causes. The study analyzed over 500 million threads, messages, and conversations on eight social networks platforms over 34 years, including Facebook, Reddit, Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The results of the study indicate that toxicity is not a consequence of the networks themselves but rather something more deeply rooted in human behavior. Professor Walter Quattrociocchi from Sapienza University, along with other academics from his university and the City University and the Alain Turing Institute in London, suggests that despite changes in networks and social norms over time, certain human behaviors persist in online discussions regardless of the platform.

The study found that toxicity does not necessarily diminish the appeal of a platform. User behavior in toxic and non-toxic conversations showed similar patterns in terms of participation, suggesting that the presence of toxicity may not deter participation as commonly assumed. While human behavior is linked to a certain level of toxicity on networks, it does not mean that all online interactions are destined to be toxic or that efforts to mitigate toxic behavior are ineffective.

On the contrary, the findings could help inform strategies to moderate content on social platforms to reduce the prevalence of toxic behavior in online discourse and environment. This research sheds light on behaviors that contribute to online toxicity by providing valuable insights for improving online discourse and environment on social networks.

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