Social Networks and Human Behavior: Understanding the Roots of Toxicity Online

Humanity is the root cause of toxic networks

A recent study published in Nature has delved into the issue of toxicity on social networks, analyzing over 500 million threads, messages, and conversations in English on eight platforms over 34 years. The results suggest that toxicity is not a consequence 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. This includes toxicity.

Furthermore, the study found that 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 efforts to mitigate toxic behavior may not be as effective as commonly assumed.

However, the findings could still help inform strategies to moderate content on social platforms in order to reduce the prevalence of toxic behavior online. By understanding the behaviors that contribute to online toxicity, we can work towards creating a more positive discourse and environment on social networks.

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