Unraveling the Roots of Online Toxicity: A Study Analyzing Human Behavior on Social Networks

Humanity is the root cause of toxic networks

Unraveling the Roots of Online Toxicity: A Study Analyzing Human Behavior on Social Networks

The online debate on social networks can be draining, especially when conversations become heated. But are the platforms and their algorithms to blame for the toxic environment that is taking shape? A recent study published in Nature explores this issue, delving into various behaviors to better understand where online toxicity originates.

The research analyzed over 500 million threads, messages, and conversations in English on eight platforms over 34 years, including Facebook, Reddit, Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube. The findings suggest that toxicity is not a result of the networks themselves but rather something 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, found that despite changes in networks and social norms over time, certain human behaviors persist in online discussions regardless of the platform.

Furthermore, the study found that toxicity does not necessarily deter participation on a platform. User behavior in toxic and non-toxic conversations showed similar patterns in terms of participation. 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, these findings could inform strategies to moderate content on social platforms to reduce the prevalence of toxic behavior online. This research provides valuable insights for improving the discourse and environment on social networks by identifying behaviors that contribute to online toxicity.

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