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Repercussions of Commenting on News Websites in Norway

The next speaker in this AoIR 2016 session is Anders Løvlie, whose interest is in the repercussions of commenting on online newspaper sites for the commenters themselves. This is in the context of the 2011 terror attacks in Norway, which were inspired in part by a number of right-wing extremist Websites. In the aftermath, online commenting on news sites became seen as a form of bigotry, and Norwegian news sites tightened their comment moderation approaches.

Commenters on these sites were asked whether they had ever experienced negative repercussions from commenting – 11% said that they had. Those who participated more often and without using anonymous accounts experienced such repercussions more often, which is unsurprising; also, however, those who thought commenting rules were too strict had experienced more repercussions, perhaps because of their own transgressions of these rules, and commenters on fringe Website had been especially likely to experience repercussions.

Problems experienced included negative responses (29%), threats (23%), harassment (14%), and trouble with their employers (10%), while violence was quite uncommon. There did not seem to be any statistically significant differences between male and female respondents. There was a sentiment amongst respondents that it had become more difficult for people to speak their mind, especially for commenters espousing right-wing views.