Human Behavior, Not Algorithms, Responsible for Online Toxicity: Study Sheds Light on Unpopular Insights

Humanity is the root cause of toxic networks

Online toxicity has become a major concern in the public debate on social networks. But is it the platforms and their algorithms that are responsible for this toxic environment, or is it something more deeply rooted in human behavior? A recent study published in Nature aimed to isolate various behaviors to better understand where online toxicity originates.

The researchers analyzed over 500 million threads, messages, and conversations in English on eight platforms over 34 years, including Facebook, Reddit, Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube. The results of the study showed 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 and other academics from his university and the City University and the Alain Turing Institute in London suggest 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 contrary to popular belief, 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. This suggests 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, these findings could help inform strategies to moderate content on social platforms to reduce the prevalence of toxic behavior in the online world. The research sheds light on behaviors that contribute to online toxicity and provides valuable insights for improving discourse and environment on social networks.

Leave a Reply