Life Skills

Hello Future!- More Civil Discourse On The internet, More Discipline In The Comment Section


Comment sections! Have you ever come across some of those websites with terrible, poisonous comment sections?

YouTube is one of those! It’s like some commenters have made it their life mission to respond with hatred, making the comment sections unbearable!

But what should we, as readers and content producers, do in response to comment sections?  Simply ignore them? Strict moderation maybe? In fact, because of these toxic comment sections, many major news organization, decided to completely remove their comment sections. (Read more on and


The Good News?

There is a bot that can identify  ‘Toxic’ comments online. According to the New York Times, Jigsaw, a technology incubator within Alphabet (Google’s parent company) says it has “developed a new tool for web publishers to identify toxic comments that can undermine a civil exchange of ideas.” Jigsaw’s software API is known as Perspective. Jigsaw and Google’s Counter Abuse Technology team created Perspective in a collaborative research project called Conversation-AI

Want to know how it works? Fortunately, you test it out for yourself, with an experiment section on the Perspective website, where you can type in words and see if they might be perceived as “toxic.” Check out more  on

Because you’re worth it — how a personal brand helps your career

In the late 1980s and early 1990s social and cultural researchers and thinkers began to articulate how changes in the organization of global capitalism were affecting cultural life.

The shift toward networked forms of “just-in-time” production and the pervasiveness of consumption and market relations in everyday life was articulated in concepts like: “flexible accumulation”, “reflexive production”, “promotional culture” and “immaterial labour”.

One curious product of these changes has been the rise of the “personal brand”, particularly in immaterial and knowledge-based forms of labour.

For professional meaning-makers of all kinds – marketers, advertisers, journalists, political and policy advisors, academics and researchers – success increasingly depends on their ability to “brand” their value (skills, networks and immaterial qualities) as a competitive advantage to potential employers and investors.

The crafting of the personal brand began with what Irving Goffman (1959) termed “impression management”, evident in a more conscious attention to attire and corporate accessories like business cards, personal organizers and mobile phones.

Personal branding evolved alongside the development of post-war corporate culture (famously dramatized at its most excessive in the “business card” scene from American Psycho.)

The arrival of mainstream social networking platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, About.Me and Facebook in the past decade have intensified and expanded personal branding in two ways.

Firstly, aspiring professionals can adapt the techniques of corporate brands in the way they “mediate” their identity. And, secondly, the way we present ourselves as personal brands gets mixed up with our private social lives.

Much public discussion about the private-public nature of social media has focused on the potential negatives. For instance, media have fed panic about drunken photos on Facebook harming future job prospects, and many employers report “googling” and “facebooking” potential employees. This panic has subsided as professionals use social networks to scout for talent, interact with leaders in their industry, and build their personal profile.

Developing a personal brand can be a strategic and savvy activity for aspiring professionals in the cultural industries.

Greens Senator Sarah Hansen-Young advertised for a media advisor solely on Twitter, telling The Australian newspaper that “someone who is not on Twitter probably isn’t going to be the right person for the job”.

Latika Bourke was recruited from Fairfax to the ABC largely because of the Twitter profile and following she developed covering Federal politics.

In each of these cases a strong personal brand was the basis of career opportunities. For an exceptional few personal brands can also be commercialized. Mia Freedman has created a valuable personal brand through her Mamamia blog, attracting a lucrative audience of middle-class Australian women.

Natalie Tran, a 20-something media graduate, makes money from the shared ad-revenue of her CommunityChannel on YouTube and has been recently partnered with Lonely Planet to make a series of travel documentaries targeted at her young and educated audience. In each case, online presence, profile and connectedness are valuable commodities deployed by these individuals to enhance their professional profile or to make money.

Far from the panic of keeping everything online “private”, for aspiring professionals in the knowledge and creative industries, making themselves more “public” in a strategic and managed way cultivates a valuable self, visible and strategically positioned for future opportunities.

Aspiring professionals can use platforms like Twitter to follow the conversation within their industry, establish a presence, and interact with industry leaders. Employment in these industries has “always” revolved around personal connections and who you know.

Social media adds another layer to this process of image and impression management. The development of advertising in the 20th century was accompanied by increasingly sophisticated forms of market research.

One sign personal branding has become embedded in our work cultures is the emergence of online tools and services that track personal brand value.

In the field of personal branding, the emerging market leader is a service called Klout (others include Twitalyzer, Backtype and PostRank) which will give your personal brand value a “score” and a profile based on the size and quality of your online networks. Services like Klout encourage individuals to more self-consciously evaluate their online presence and how they can strategically improve it.

Personal branding is part of branding becoming a ubiquitous platform for social communication. On Twitter, Facebook and other social networking platforms, young creative folk both interact with brands, incorporate brands into their identity and present themselves using the codes and logics of branding.

Branding provides a model for imagining our self, constructing our identity, and our place in the world. As middle class individuals imagine and present themselves using platforms and techniques once exclusive to governments and corporations, are they becoming more empowered participants in economic and political processes?

Or, is this further evidence of daily life becoming more intensively plugged into a global infrastructure of cultural production where individuals are pushed into more competitive, and perhaps alienated, relations with each other?

Personal branding might make individuals “richer” within the current system of cultural production, but that doesn’t mean it enriches our social, cultural and political life. The “value-added” presentation of the self might make us more interested in out-manoeuvring our fellow competitor in the game of life rather than contributing to meaningful public conversations.

There are both utopian and dystopian views of personal branding. The challenge for media, cultural and political researchers is to assess the limits and possibilities of branding as a platform for social communication.

The Conversation

Nicholas Carah, , The University of Queensland

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The filter bubble isn’t just Facebook’s fault – it’s yours

Following the shock results of Brexit and the Trump victory, a lot of attention has focused on the role that Facebook might have played in creating online political ghettos in which false news can easily spread. Facebook now has serious political influence thanks to its development from a social networking tool into a primary source of news and opinions. And for many, the way it manages this influence is in need of greater scrutiny. But to put the blame solely on the company is to overlook how people use the site, and how they themselves create a filter bubble effect through their actions.

Much of this debate has focused on the design of Facebook itself. The site’s personalisation algorithm, which is programmed to create a positive user experience, feeds people what they want. This creates what the CEO of viral content site Upworthy, Eli Pariser, calls “filter bubbles”, which supposedly shield users from views they disagree with. People are increasingly turning to Facebook for their news – 44 % of US adults now report getting news from the site – and fake news is not editorially weeded out. This means that misinformation can spread easily and quickly, hampering the chance people have for making informed decisions.

Over the last few weeks, there have been frequent calls for Facebook to address this issue. President Obama himself has weighed in on the issue, warning of the perils that rampant misinformation can have for the democratic process.

Much of the debate around this, however, has had an element of technological determinism to it, suggesting that users of Facebook are at the mercy of the algorithm. In fact, our research shows that the actions of users themselves are still a very important element in the way that Facebook gets used.

Our research has been looking specifically at how people’s actions create the context of the space in which they communicate. Just as important as the algorithm is how people use the site and shape it around their own communications. We’ve found that most users have an overwhelming view that Facebook is not ideally suited to political debate, and that posts and interactions should be kept trivial and light-hearted.


This isn’t to say that people don’t express political opinions on Facebook. But for many people there’s a reluctance to engage in discussion, and a sense that anything that might be contentious is better handled by face-to-face conversation. People report that they fear the online context will lead to misunderstandings because of the way that written communication lacks some of the non-linguistic cues of spoken communication, such as tone of voice and facial gestures.

There’s strong evidence in our research that people are actually exposed to a great deal of diversity through Facebook. This is because their network includes people from all parts of their life, a finding that echoes other research. In this respect, the algorithm doesn’t have a marked influence on the creation of filter bubbles. But because they often want to avoid conflict, people report ignoring or blocking posts, or even unfriending people, when confronted with views with which they strongly disagree.

They also report taking care of what they say themselves so as not to antagonise people such as family members or work colleagues whose views differ from theirs, but whose friendship they wish to maintain. And finally, they talk of making a particular effort to put forward a positive persona on social media, which again stops them from engaging in debate which might lead to argument.

Not so easy to fix

The idea that algorithms are responsible for filter bubbles suggests it should be easy to fix (by getting rid of the algorithms), which makes it an appealing explanation. But this perspective ignores the part played by users themselves, who effectively create their own filter bubbles by withdrawing from political discussions and hiding opinions they disagree with.

This isn’t done with the intention of sifting out diversity but is instead due to a complex mix of factors. These include the perceived purpose of Facebook, how users want to present themselves in an effectively public form, and how responsible they feel for the diverse ties that make up their online network.

The fact that manipulation by the algorithm isn’t the only issue here means that other solutions, for example raising people’s awareness of the possible consequences that their online actions have, can help encourage debate. We have to recognise that the impact of technology comes not just from the innovations themselves but also from how we use them, and that solutions have to come from us as well.

The Conversation

Philip Seargeant, Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, The Open University and Caroline Tagg, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and English Language, The Open University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.