Comments Section: The Kangaroo Court of Public Opinion (and Hatred)

The Internet is a scary place. We live in a world where online harassment is a very real thing. And for every major news item like GamerGate at SXSW, there are thousands of smaller instances of pure hatred from behind the keyboard.

The 24/7 news cycle and publishers’ insatiable appetite for page views and click throughs has given rise to sponsored hatred all around the web. But the worst comes not from the publishers themselves, but from the comments. As they say, everyone is a tough guy when they’re behind a screen.

Today, formerly great “tech blog” Mashable ran a story about an Australian woman who posted her winning lottery ticket on social media. The ticket code was promptly stolen and redeemed, causing her to become Australia’s “biggest loser” per Mashable.

Now I’m not here to debate whether it’s smart to post your lotto ticket online. Obviously it’s risky and this girl paid the price. And there is a legitimate conversation to be had about the need for educating young people about what and when to share so share with 800 of your closest friends.

But that does not warrant the treatment this woman is receiving from a major news outlet like Mashable — or its comments section.
Take these examples of unsolicited online hatred by people who think they’re above making mistakes:

Some prefer simple, straightforward hate:

To be fair, not all comments are so harsh. In fact, one comment sums up the point of this post:


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