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Here’s why Cape Gazette disabled commenting

July 26, 2019

The Cape Gazette recently disabled Facebook comments on the story and viewpoints pages of capegazette.com. The decision came after the posting of a particularly offensive and inflammatory racist comment which in no way added constructively to discussion about the article to which it was attached. 

The comment resided there for a number of hours before a reader alerted us to its existence. Although we have monitored comments as well as we could through the past several years, that task has become increasingly challenging as the nasty and divisive tone of the commenting has grown both in virulence and volume. 

Adding to the problem is the fact that many of the users who posted inappropriate comments did so using Facebook accounts which do not authenticate the identity of the user. That strategy allowed anonymous commenting and took away any accountability other than association with the Cape Gazette site. Unlike our print edition, where all items are reviewed and vetted in advance of publication, comments could be posted onto capegazette.com via Facebook without prior review.

We finally accepted the reality that we don’t have the resources needed for the constant monitoring required – day and night, seven days a week – to ensure that inappropriate comments are removed promptly so capegazette.com does not become a tool for spreading hatred and divisiveness. Those attitudes run counter to the Cape Gazette’s publishing philosophy of promoting unity and progress in our communities through positive and constructive discourse that builds and enhances understanding.

We cherish all of our First Amendment freedoms. We also understand the great responsibility that comes with free speech and a free press, and we do not want to be a party to abuses that jeopardize those freedoms.

We welcome readers to join our more than 38,000 followers on our vibrant Cape Gazette Facebook page, where responsible comments are encouraged and moderated. The Cape Gazette is working on finding a solution that will allow us to resume publishing verified user comments directly on capegazette.com that promote discussion, but in the meantime, we wanted readers to know why we took this action.

 

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher emeritus, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.