letter on the group’s website on Thursday that IOL will be closing comments on its online articles with immediate effect. By Staff Writerin a
The move by IOL follows a similar strategy by News24 last month.
“The freedom of expression guaranteed by our Constitution was never meant to override the personal freedoms and human rights of our fellow citizens,” says Ephraim.
He added that let me be clear that commenting on an article is not a right, but a courtesy afforded to you by IOL as a reader.
“If you are prone to being racist or sexist in your thinking, by all means express yourself on other platforms that may find such behaviour acceptable, but not on IOL,” Ephraim explains. “We are of the view that instances of abuse in our comments section have become untenable.”
In 2014 IOL set up an Advisory Panel to investigate online abuse on our platforms after a 16-year-old intern was subjected to horrendous written abuse related to an article she had written last year.
The panel’s report stated in short, that it is desirable to have online comments in the interests of freedom of expression. However, the constitutional rights of readers and members of the public should not be infringed by such comments. And there’s the rub.
“From now on we will only tolerate meaningful contributions that take place with dignity, respect and clarity of thought. This way we can deliver more of the type of journalism you want. When we do publish your opinion, it will be at the discretion of the IOL editorial team,” he said.
“You may e-mail your opinion to IOLletters@inl.co.za and we will consider it for publication. We will also pre-moderate and publish opinion on selected stories, provided they relate to the subject at hand.
“In arriving at our decision, we concluded that we’d rather devote resources to doing better journalism than recruiting more people to fend off the trolls who lurk in the alleys of the comment section, offering zero value to the conversation.”