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If you get your news from Facebook, you will almost certainly have noticed that the Social Media platform has recently introduced a new way of listing the top comments on posts.
Previously the person with the ‘most-liked’ comment grabbed the coveted ‘top comment’ spot on popular posts.
For those unfamiliar with Facebook, the top comment is the first one seen by anybody viewing the post, and listing them in order of the amount of likes they received was a good rough guide to gauge overall public opinion and to sense the prevailing political mood on social media.
Almost invariably, especially on left-leaning publications, this meant that the most inspiring or positive comments would become the most liked, and therefore the most seen comment by other users.
However, for whatever reason, Facebook have now decided that they don’t like this way of doing things. And so they have introduced a new way – a way that, whether through accident or design, only seems to be benefiting people willing to air utterly disgusting and hugely objectionable views.
The new Facebook top comment algorithm, rather than listing the most liked comment at the top, now lists the comment with the most replies at the top of every post instead.
By ordering top comments by the amount of replies they receive, Facebook is now actively encouraging people to post the most outrageous and deplorable comments that they think other users will feel obliged to rebuke in order to win the top comment slot.
In the same way that attention seeking fascists like Katie Hopkins use hatred, division and incitement to gain the attention they crave, Facebook’s new algorithm is now encouraging social media users to do the same.
The previous method was not without its faults, but Facebook’s change only serves to ensure the most odious and egregious views become the most widely seen – completely eliminating any kind of sensible debate and presenting an even bigger platform to troll accounts – accounts which Facebook publicly say they want to eliminate from their site.
Take this post from The Independent, for example:
Despite The Independent being a relatively liberal, left-leaning publication with a huge fan base of like-minded readers, the top two comments on this post are:
As you can see, two intentionally provocative comments posted by the same troll account have been pushed to the top of the comments because other users feel they have to respond.
However, with the new Facebook algorithm, merely commenting to register your anger at someone’s comment is not always the best course of action to deal with trolls.
What can we do to counter the trolls?
Taking into account the new Facebook algorithm, there are several ways of countering troll comments such as this
- Like The Top Counter Comment
A counter comment that receives more like than the original comment will ensure that the counter comment becomes immediately visible to other users.
The two top comments in the above Independent post had no counter comments that exceeded the like-count of the original comment, meaning the counter comments were not displayed by default.
Now look at this post on Jeremy Corbyn’s page:
Because David John’s counter comment received more likes than Daniel Whittle’s means that it is automatically displayed when someone views the post. Therefore, to counter negative troll comments, the first thing you should do is to like the first counter comment you agree with.
- Reply to the Comments You Agree With
To ensure that positive comments are pushed higher up the top comments list, always try to reply to the ones you agree with. You don’t have to post an essay – just reply with ‘Agree’ or ‘Well said’, much like ‘bumping’ a post in a group to ensure it improves its visibility.
- Report Troll Facebook Accounts
Troll accounts are always very similar. They usually have no actual photos of a real human being and regularly post deplorable and obnoxious comments on things they disagree with purely for attention.
If you suspect someone of commenting through a troll account, simply report them. Facebook has a very strict policy to ensure only people willing to show their own face and use their real name are allowed to use accounts.
To report troll accounts, go to their profile, then:
On Desktop: Click the three dots button, then click report:
Then click ‘Report this profile’
Then click ‘This is a fake account’Then click ‘Submit to Facebook for review’
On Mobile, go to their profile and click the ‘More…’ button and then follow the above stages.
If you know of any more ways to counter Facebook’s Nazi-enabling algorithm change, please let us know in the comments below.
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