Article on discriminatory online commentary by Fangen and Holter

News

2 July 2020

Article on discriminatory online commentary by Fangen and Holter
Photo: Rasheedrasheed via Wikimedia Commons

The article by Fangen and Holter titled The battle for truth: How online newspaper commenters defend their censored expressions and published in the journal Poetics, is based on interviews with 15 people whose comments were censored by newspaper moderators for posting comments of a racist, discriminatory or hateful nature.

The article makes an important insight into how online news commenters on the far right see their own commentary practice. This is particularly important in a time when, not only in Norway, but also in many other Western countries, there have been several violent attacks perpetrated by actors who explicitly state that their main inspiration stemmed from online communication platforms.

The article reveals that the censored newspaper commenters see themselves as people who fight for the revelation of the truth, in contrast to the lies spread by politicians and the media. By linking up to alternative news media, these individuals support various forms of racialized conspiracy theories. They have a strong sense that the moderation of their comments was unfair, and brand comments that challenge their counter-knowledge as "lies". The subjects report different motivations for their commentary practice, ranging from play to provocation, from a call to tell the truth to an urge to warn about the consequences of immigration in order to avert a bloodbath. The latent violent potential of some of the comments means that society needs to take them seriously. 

The article is open access and available here.